In a Belgrade Bar, ‘Forbidden’ Books Fan Far-Right Flames

Klub 451, founded by former National Serbian Front member Marko Gajinovic, has echoes of La Citadelle, a club in the French city of Lille where members of the far-right Identitarian Movement meet and, according to a documentary by Al Jazeera, discuss and plan activities, promote films and forge links with other extremists.

In November 2021, Klub 451 sent a message of support on Instagram to the far-right Alvarium group based in the western city of Angers after French President Emmanuel Macron signed a decree banning its activities, while the following month the club also hosted representatives of French Zentropa for a panel discussion.

The club only really made headlines, however, in February this year when leftist groups sounded the alarm over an announced concert by Ewiger Sturm, a Swiss musician who performs arrangements of songs by ultra-right bands, one of which is dedicated to Donaldson.

The concert, due to be held on March 12, the 19th anniversary of the assassination of reformist Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, was cancelled. But plenty of other far-right promotional events have gone ahead.

One of them was the Montag Book Fair, held late last year in Klub 451, at which Zentropa, the ‘Ishodiste’ bookstore, and the far-right group Serbian Action presented their publishing activities, among them ‘For My Legionaries’ by Romanian far -right leader Corneliu Codreanu, founder of the militant fascist movement Iron Guard in 1930.

Representing Ishodiste was Ivan Petrovic, author and editor of the right-wing magazine Identitet, which count among its contributors Gajinovic and Marko Dimitrijevic, both of whom took part in a protest in early 2018 calling for the rehabilitation of Milan Nedic, leader of a Nazi -backed Serbian puppet government during World War Two.

Besides Codreanu, Ishodiste recommends a host of “forbidden” books including the collected works of Serbian fascist politician Dimitrije Ljotic, founder of the fascist ‘Zbor’ movement in 1935.

For its part, Serbian Action promotes the works of Ljotic follower Milosav Vasiljevic, who collaborated in Nedic’s government, and Nikolaj Velimirovic, a revered Serbian bishop briefly imprisoned by the Nazis in Dachau concentration camp but who had a high opinion of Ljotic and was accused of anti-Semitism in his writings and sermons. In its online bookstore, Serbian Action praises Velimirovic for “exposing Jewish malice and the spirit of Judaised and godless modern Europe.”

The publishing house Catena mundi, founded by Branimir Nesic, a leading member of the right-wing Dveri movement, has republished the 1956 ‘Book about Draza’, which romantises the life of WWII Serbian nationalist commander Dragoljub ‘Draza’ Mihailovic, who was executed in 1946 by Yugoslav communist authorities for collaborating with the Nazis. The book is widely available in major Serbian bookstores.

Srdic of VAK told BIRN: “Revision of history is common in this branch of science. When new facts are established, then existing actions and attitudes are re-examined. But these cases do not review history, they interpret it differently. It is unbelievable what is justified here and in what way it is interpreted.”

Such narratives serve to radicalize sections of society, she warned. “Everything must first begin in words, in a narrative.”

With cash and connections, ‘you can publish anything’

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