In an interview for "Vesti" Sofija Škorić says:
- This anthology is not about us Serbs praising ourselves. The book was devised to remind allies, as well as all of us, what the witnesses of those times have been saying, so it’s not rehashing of history. We also wanted our kids, which have been born in the Diaspora and do not speak nor read the Serbian language, to be able to read it in English and awaken their pride towards their people who deserve all respect. It is our duty as Canadians and as Serbs. I hope that this book will be accepted so that it will find a way into every library, every Serbian home, because it is the best present we can give our children and grandchildren, or Canadian friends, to see who we are, where we are from, that is our goal. I am afraid that our younger generations, both here in Canada and there in Serbia, don’t know their national history. This is an opportunity to learn a lot of important things from one single book. On the other hand, Serbs have a habit of self-criticism and never being good enough for themselves, while respecting other people’s opinions. This book consists of “other” opinions, what foreigners wrote. I hope that the Serbs who read this book will understand that they should be proud of their nation, that we should all raise our heads instead of having to defend the Serbian name from certain quasi-historians, Sofija Škorić underlines.
Peasant shoes versus the empire
“Serbia entered the war in 1914 utterly unprepared. It was already her third war in two years. The first two wars were wars for liberation, this third war was a fight for survival, for bare existence. Serbia enters an unequal fight, physically and materially exhausted, in a war against such a force as the Austro-Hugarian Empire, which had 50 million inhabitants and one of the best equipped armies of the time. However, after two weeks since the start of the war, Serbia beats Austria at the Battle of Cer, and that is the first Allied victory. After the miracle known as the battle of Kolubara and the tactics implemented by Duke Mišić, which are being studied today in military academies around the world, Serbia gained great respect among the Allies”, Rajko Radojević reminds us.
“It is important to stress that Serbia didn’t have a favorable image up until the start of the Great War and the Battle of Cer. The “May Coup” and the assassination of the King and Queen also added a lot to it, which left a very bad impression on the rest of Europe. After the Battle of Cer that changed, and Serbia started being written about with respect and in a very positive context”, our interviewees say. “It is the Serb in peasant shoes that wins the battle against the great Austria-Hungary it is the peasant Serbia that we should respect, and not to underrate the peasant which at that time defended his country, his home, family, and bare life”, adds Sofija Škorić.
The book is a Canadian edition, registered in Ottawa and all libraries have knowledge of it being published. "According to my personal rule, I always send everything I published to the Toronto University Library, so this anthology will also be featured on their bookshelves. The book was also, in several copies, given to the new Canadian ambassador in Belgrade, who has the intention of gifting it to diplomats on Christmas", says Sofija Škorić.
SNA, unfortunately, does not have the money to send this valuable anthology to other libraries across Canada, Australia, Great Britain, America, to those countries from which the writers of the texts collected in this book came from. That is why our interviewees recommend that our people, apart for themselves and thier family, buy another book and bring it to their local library or mail it. In that way they would achieve two things: they would contribute to growing the fund from the sales of books (all the money from the sales goes to financing the SNA and its future work, and the editors for this project were volunteers), and to promote a different, better view of Serbia and not to forget how she used to be written and talked about with great respect and piety.
Dying for the keys to the Middle East
Thinking about the Serbian victory on Cer, Churchill will write that, in fact, the war has already been decided in the first two weeks of battle, and everything that happened after that, all the bloody battles that were led, were battles against destiny’s decision on how the war will end. Siton-Watson wrote that “nobody from the Allies fought with more heriosm, nor suffered more, than fearless little Serbia, and our debt to it is even greater because Serbia’s biggest sin, in the eyes of the Axis forces, was that it held the keys to the East against German aggression and blocked the road that leads from Berlin towards Constantinople and Baghdad.”
Founders collected, "Studenica" fincanced
Sofija Škorić was one of the founders of the Serbian National Academy of Canada in 1981, and it’s long-time secretary. Last year, after the renewed work of this institution, she becomes it’s president. She graduated in Yugoslav Literature from the University of Belgrade, and she got her Master’s degree in Russian Language and Literature from the University of Hamilton. She also finished Librarian studies at the University of Toronto. She founded the Slavistics Research Center in the Roberts University Library in Toronto. Her work is concerned with history, essays, and translation.
Rajko Radojević emigrated from Serbia as a child, and graduated in History and English Literature in Detroit. He gained a Master’s degree in Russian History from the University of Waterloo. He earned his Doctorate in Balkan History from the University of London. He taught at the Detroit Institute for Technology and St. Claire College in Windsor. He spent the majority of his working career in government institutions, and retired as a manager at the Canada Employment and Immigration Commission. He was recognized and awarded for his work in both Canada and Serbia. He has been a member of the SNA since it’s founding, and last year he was the organization’s secretary.
The printing of the book was financed by the Studenica Foundation from San Francisco, and the promotion will be held on the 26th of December in the Hall of the Serbian Center in Mississauga, starting at 3:30 pm.