There are lots of “us” here in Vienna. And that is a cool fact that needs a short explanation.
Here, we are all around. We are students, cleaning personnel, directors, doctors, attorneys, politicians, journalists, and even criminals. Today, I’m going to write about the first group, the group I am part of.
I came to study in Vienna for a one simple reason: it is a place with a great university. Some other, more romantic reasons are arguments often used for justifying the decision that has already been made. One of those arguments is that Vienna is a city of Serbian intellectual elite. That argument is surely not a false one!
Let’s go a few steps back!
Two years ago I went to the Archive of the University to find documents about Serbian writer from Banjaluka, Petar Kočić and his friend who later became a professor in Belgrade, Vaso Glušac. They both studied in Vienna. On my way to the Archive, I was passing through the street where another Serbian lived, the poet Branko Radičević. A Few hundred meters down the street was old Vienna’s hospital where Radičević passed away. He was in love with the daughter of Vuk Karadžić, the reformer of our language. Vuk Karadžić and his family also lived in Vienna.
Almost every day I spend time at the Faculty of Law. The very same faculty where Jovan
Hadžić studied, a notable law-scientist who tried to reform civil law in Serbia in the time of Miloš Obrenović`s government. The first edition of one of the most important literary works written on Serbian language “The Mountain Wreath” was printed. There are many examples of Serbian intellectuals who lived in Vienna than I would even have time to the deadline for writing this article. If we look at it from the side of historical importance, Vienna is for “us” more important than many cities where we are domestic population. Truth be told, Belgrade is probably the only city that could be compared with Vienna in such a matter.
Today, Vienna looks a bit different than before. But still, there are lots of “us” here. Today,
most of my colleagues are not willing to go back there where they are coming from. Some
would say, they would not repeat mistakes of people like Dositej Obradović who tried to
improve the social capacity of his people. Whether he succeeded or not is a question for
historians. From that aspect, Vienna looks far different. We have different status here than we had a few decades ago. We are notable at almost every corner of the city. And also there are lots more people who are integrated into Vienna´s society. Some would say it is related to the growth of capitalism. The real cause for that is a deep disappointment with political situation in our country.
The intellectuals I have mentioned and many others of them never got a chance to integrate. Nowadays chance for integration exists and finding “our” lawyer, doctor or teacher is not rare as it used to be. Many of those who studied in Vienna and have been the best students in their generation decided to stay and establish families. But still there is one big problem that bothers them; the political elite from their home country does not recognize them as an important part of the nation. They are still struggling with old painful topics while playing with the sword. But here, our new Dositej and Kočić are
more interested in economy topics and hope that time of swords passed while waiting for
somebody to realize: The best weapon our people have is a pen in our hands.
Author: Srđan Barašin