Serbia's Secret War
Propaganda and the Deceit of History
6 x 9, 264 pp.
1 b&w photo., 3 maps., 13 tables.
Pub Date: 11/01/1996
Eugenia & Hugh M. Stewart '26 Series
Price:        $24.95 s

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Serbia's Secret War

Propaganda and the Deceit of History

By Philip J. Cohen

An entire piece of Serbian history is missing. And in the middle of the latest Yugoslav war—Europe's worst blood bath since World War II—Serbian politicians, propagandists, and revisionist historians have made a cynical attempt at replacing the missing piece by rewriting the Holocaust record: Serbs were not Nazi collaborators in genocide, but purely victims of the same atrocities that befell the Jews; and Serbian aspirations for a Greater Serbia are not driven by a murderous, nationalistic hatred, but rather are propelled by a victim's desire to lay claim to a safe homeland, a Serbian Promised Land. Thus has the current spilling of blood been justified.

Philip J. Cohen argues that the existence of such a propaganda campaign, emanating from Belgrade, began in the earliest days of the post-World War II era and, since then, has been reflected in the world media, as well as in popular commentary and scholarly analysis. More astonishing is that this campaign has been widely successful, particularly in Israel.

In attempting to not only establish but also explain the Serbian record during the Nazi occupation, Cohen takes his reader back into nineteenth-century Serbia to uncover the foundation of a political and social system that was partly built on ethnic prejudices and the glorification of violence. The rise of Serbian fascism in the 1930s was therefore inevitable—predetermined by the politics of power- and land-grabbing.

Remarkable for its broad portrayal and penetrating examination of the Yugoslav social and political experience, Serbia at War with History draws heavily on documents that have been previously unavailable to the West. Some of the written record has been translated and is published here, in full, for the first time. Destined to be regarded as an important contribution to the field, Cohen's careful study of the Serbian role in the Second World War will dramatically alter how scholars, policy makers, and the general public view the bloodshed in the former Yugoslavia—and how they will come to understand the reasons behind it.

Philip J. Cohen, a medical doctor, has done extensive research on history and politics in the Balkans. He is widely published in scholarly journals and books."Dr. Cohen's book is of unique value because it serves two vital purposes: to document the often misunderstood and misrepresented history of Serbian nationalism and Serbian collaboration with the Nazis and to expose some of the myths used by Serbian extremists today in the former Yugoslavia to justify a new round of genocide and `ethnic cleansing.' As a result, it will make the task of revisionists and war criminals all the more difficult.

What Readers Are Saying:

“Cohen's book is even more compelling and timely, however, for the chilling parallels linking Serbian fascists of the 1940s with those of the 1990s—not to mention those individuals who participated in the war crimes of both eras. With CNN and other media providing greater access to the ongoing genocide in Bosnia today, one hopes that Dr. Cohen's book will not require a sequel fifty years from now."--Stephen W. Walker, Director, American Committee to Save Bosnia, former State Department official (resigned August 1993 to protest U.S. policy toward Bosnia)

“The devastating, cumulative effect of Cohen's research ranks this book among those rare works that give rise to painful, broader questions, such as: How can we who witness aggression and atrocities at the hands of brutal regimes so blindly accept their easier offenses of altering memory and re-writing history?" --Marshall Freeman Harris, Director, Action Council for Peace in the Balkans, f

" . . . weaves a rich tapestry covering the last 200 years of Balkan history while emphasizing the role the Serbs played in World War II. . . . Offering a wealth of new information, this impressive, scholarly book is highly recommended for all history collections." --Library Journal

"Philip Cohen's book provides a useful counter to current myths about Serbia's history during the Second World War. By detailing the reality of past Serbian national socialism and anti-Semitism he allows us to understand more clearly the mentality which has been at work in Belgrade, and so the roots of today's Yugoslavian tragedy." --Lady Margaret Thatcher, House of Lords, former British prime minister

“. . . a revisionist work in that it overturns conventional wisdom, but not in the murky or dubious sense connotated by holocaust “revisionism”. . . . his central thesis of extensive Serbian collaboration with Nazi Germany is well supported by the evidence. . . .” --Times Higher Education Supplement

“. . . This work, utilizing sources not readily accessible, presents a detailed study of Serbian fascism and, above all, of Serbian cooperation with the German occupying forces. The book makes a convincing case that there ought to be a revision of the common belief that the wartime Serbs were heroic antifascist fighters.” --Dimensions, Volume 10, Number 2

“. . . Serbia’s Secret War is a very relevant and timely text. . . . Dr. Cohen has ensured himself a special place in the history of these ugly matters . . . It is to be devoutly hoped that Dr. Cohen’s Herculean efforts will serve as a critical corrective to this “deceit of history” . . . Dr. Cohen’s book is not a plea to remember or dwell morbidly upon the past, but rather wake-up call to avoid misplaced partnering in the present. . . .” --The Journal of Psychiatry & Law


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