Gariwo – SEE.ID

August 19, 2009

The Bosnian NGO Gariwo that we visited in Sarajevo to interview Dr. Svetlana Broz and to learn about the organization Gariwo / Imam petlju wrote about us and our project! The NGO Gariwo Sarajevo was established in September 2001 as a branch office of the international network Gardens of the Righteous Worldwide. It is stronly engaged in education for civil courage in the BiH post-conflict society to make a peaceful future possible – against all manipulations. Its founder Dr. Svetlana Broz is an activist for peace and mutual understanding. She wrote the popular book “Good people in evil times” that deals with civil courage across ethnic boundaries during the wartime.

Get more information and read the article on or on!


On Monday we had a wonderful Balkan-style farewell dinner – thanks to the vegetables, meat and fruits from Juliska and her garden in Vojvodina – with our hosts Kerstin and Georg, Aleksandras family and friends. On Tuesday we had our last interview with Adnan, who told us about his experiences researching in Northern Bosnia on the history of the recent war (in his diploma thesis) and on Jugo-/Tito-Nostalgia (now for his Ph.D. thesis).  Funny were his findings on the increasing popularity of the brand “Tito” that is now producing Tito soap, food etc. Especially interesting for us was his personal relationship to Jugonostalgia – Adnan was born in Bihac and has vivid childhood memories. Besides of that we agreed on that Jugonostalgia is mostly a projection of the “ideal good life”.

After the interview in Ferlach we headed to the train station / the airport. Now we are back home – Josefin in Berlin, Aleksandra in Klagenfurt(Celovec)/Vienna and I in Marburg. Our journey was great, impressing, with smaller and bigger adventures and wonderful people and stories along our way. I want to thank all people who supported us and who made our trip to what it was.

But even when the journey ended – we and our project are continuing!

Our hosts Liljana and Pedja took us to a free open air concert of YU-rock legend Dado Topić on the riverbanks of Sava in Novi Beograd. Dado gave an really YU-nostalgic concert, singing his hits from the 80s, like probably the most famous one: “Makedonija”. For us, it was somehow strange: There is a Croat standing on the stage who is speaking obviously more Serbian (his wife is Serb) and singing about the beauties and the longing for Makedonia. Later he presented his new song “Against Euro-Integration, because this is only shifting the borders from around the Balkans inside  the Balkans. Europe was always here, without the decision of Italians our Spains over our heads that are then ruling our live.” An attitude of “pravi rockeri”.

On Sunday we had a beautiful interview with Mirjana, a business women, former docent for economy and a friend of Aleksandras mother who pampered us as if we were her own children. She provided us drinks, pita and salad, a wonderful bosnian cake, coffee, a wonderful view on Belgrade and with wise words for the interview and for our personal future.

We headed to Postena Kafana – that is always closed on Sundays. But by coincidence, sombody passed by asking us why we were sitting in front of the Kafana. It was Misan who works here and who opened it for us to film the amazing atmosphere of the rooms that are stuffed with pictures, sculptures and other relics from SFRJ and who gave us an interview as well. In the evening we took some shots on Kalemegdan – the view on the riverside, old people dancing Kolo etc. And we were meeting my friend Iva again. On our way home we passed by a group of young musicians, playing really wonderful songs with Eastern European influence on the street. We were dancing. In the very end, we’ve found out – they are from Nürnberg. Dancing in Belgrade to East European sounding music from Nürnberg. Funny.

On Monday we took again some city shots, of the church of Sveti Sava, of a former state building hosting the police that was destroyed by NATO bombing and so on. After a delicious break in a restaurant in Skadarlija we interviewed the 90-year old Nikola, who told us of his life and of his attitude to Jugonostalgija. He fought with Tito’s Partisans, was member of the Communist Party in Montenegro and was prisoned in Goli Otok – that is sometimes called “Tito’s GULAG“ –  for more than two years because of reasonless suspicions. He is still convinced of Jugoslavism and of the socialist system and he has a nostalgia towards his memories to the „good times“ – but he is very aware of the problematic misuse of power in a system that nowadays is called totalitarian.

In the evening we interviewed our host Liljana who told us about one of her teachers who was a “typical strict communist”. For Liljana, Jugonostalgia is about childhood memories and typical products like Vegeta and not that important. She is more concentrated on building a positive future. The future is always determined by the past. That is why Liljana is disappointed about the parents’ generation that didn’t take responsability for what went wrong during the Milošević regime. After the interview we went for some drinks –  it was our last evening with Liljana and Pedja.

On Tuesday we bought the last souvenirs before meeting my friend Ana who managed it somehow to arrive on time in Belgrade from her holidays on a Croatian island despite a broken car. Ana is writing her Ph.D. thesis in the UK on the „Serbian identity“. She is of the opinion, that it is very difficult for the Serbs to find their own identity. In the often changing narratives of the past, there aren’t many fixed points to rely on, so that those like the battle of Kosovo polje in 1389 are used that are highly problematic themselves. For her it is important that Serbia is trying to overcome its identity that is mostly constructed by quasi-holy myths.

In the evening, after saying goodbye to our great, great hosts (thank you so much again!) we drove to Vojvodina, to the small village of Bešenovo. Here lives Josefinas mother Juliška who welcomed us warmly. She is living on a small farm together with a lot of different animals and is caring of a beautiful fruit and vegetable garden, her “jungle”. In the next days we were talking hours and eating and sleeping. We did some small trips to Sremska Mitrovica, the fortress Petrovaradin and Novi Sad, and we even worked a bit. We realised that our “nostalgic suitcase“ became really packed during our journey, and together with the two books on Tito Vladimir in Bešenovo gave us there is now almost no more space left 🙂 Especially we enjoyed Juliškas special diet for beloved guests: She ordered a huge (!!!) welcome cake for us, then she even slaughtered a goose for us, and of course we had to take with us kilos of fresh vegetables and fruits, meat, self-made cheese and liqueur, sausages and some litres of really old Slivovic that a woman from the neighbourhood was saving for her childrens’ weddings. Thank you so much for pampering your “three daughters”!

On Saturday we were driving all day long from Bešenovo to Ljubljana. We arrived at Ksenija’s place who provided us her flat (thanks to you and key-bringer Nina!). On Saturday we interviewed Boštjan Troha. He is very jugonostalgic, collecting old packs of popular products, nostalgic relics, cars etc. He founded the association “Nostalgija” that is organising concerts, gatherings and even pilgrimages with old Fico cars from Titos birthplace in Kumrovec to his grave in Belgrade. Now he plans to open a nostalgic warehouse museum in Ljubljana and to organise a big event for the 25th May 2010, the Day of Youth – 30 years after Tito’s death.

After the interview we went back to Klagenfurt. Here we are staying for two days with Georg and Kerstin (thanks so much!) to calm down, to get the last things organized and to finish our „inner journey“ as well. On Tuesday we have our last interview with Adnan, who is writing his Ph.D. thesis on Jugonostalgia in Nothern Bosnia (the region around Bihać) – and then we are departing.

Tuesday was a day of little disasters – I lost Aleksandras camera, the door of the garage got broken and fell on our car, and our film camera fell down because of the broken leg of our tripod that refuses to work anymore… After a couple of shocks, we did some great city and panorama shots (despite of all that!) and met active and optimistic Aida in the evening, who is working in the (I)NGO sector of Sarajevo now for about ten years. On Wednesday we had an early interview with taxi driver Hasan, who told us his impressing story: He saved the life of a Bosnian Serb soldier during the siege of Sarajevo. For him, nothing is more important than helping each other, that is the greatest and bravest thing somebody can do to him. And he is of the opinion that Bosnia is a „little Jugoslavija“. Hasan brought us to Svetlana Broz, who is the granddaughter of Josip Broz Tito. During the war in Bosnia and Herzegowina she as cardiologist decided to volunteer in BiH, there she collected the stories people told her. Out of that she wrote a book: „Good people in evil time“ that is dealing with interethnic help, braveness and friendship across ethnic borders. Svetlana Broz is now leading the NGO Gariwo that is working on citizens activism, especially on youth empowerment and education. After that we went to the historical museum of Sarajevo and visited above all the exhibition on the life of Sarajevans during the siege. In the evening we did a little thank you/farewell-party at Darkos place and cooked for our new friends from Sarajevo that were caring about us that nicely: Elvir and his girlfriend Christiana, Darko, Denis, Fedja and his girlfriend Alma.

On Thursday we said goodbye to Sarajevo by strolling around in Bascarscija touristically, but not without having interviewed Aida on her opinion on Jugonostalgija, on the problems and future of Bosnia. Quickly we took some city shots at Bascarscija, before having a last coffee. After packing we were departing in the afternoon – after Elvir, Darko, Denis and Fedja showed up suprisingly to say goodbye. Thanks guys, it was a great time with you! We will come back soon, for sure, latest with the documentary *wink!

Late at night after a long and quite slow drive to Belgrade we arrived at Liljana and Pedjas place who are hosting us for the next days. Friday we took a day off. I met my dear friend Iva, Josefin and I strolled through the city center while Aleksandra got orientation being the first time in Belgrade and seeking for some swimming at Ada Ciganlija – it’s hot again: 35 degrees Celsius!

Yesterday, after a relaxed breakfast we had an interview with the historian Predrag J. Markovic who wrote about the „seven S-values of socialistic nostalgia“, explained us the meaning of Tito for the region and the change of popular culture in the last years. After that we did some interesting detail shots at the „House of Flowers“ where Tito is buried. Every year about 150.000 people are coming to visit it and the museum around! Later we had an vivid conversation and a beautiful interview with the andragogy expert Katarina Popovic, who is working on a history project for the region. In the evening we went out with our hosts to a concert of Dado Tolic in Novi Beograd, a typical rockstar from YU-times.

Pictures: Children’s books writer Fahrudin with Josefin, taxi driver Hasan, in interview with Svetlana Broz, our host Elvir and his girlfriend Christiana, Josefin and Aida, we three having our last coffee in Sarajevo, Josefin’s magically looking but sweaty bus driving in Belgrade, Predrag Markovic with a statue of Tito, Sanna and I hiding, interview with Katarina Popovic, our hosts Liljana and Pedja during the concert.