The life story of a Serbian woman over a period of more than 70 years, preserved in memoirs, letters and mostly diaries, recounts the triumphs and tragedies of a life that takes place against the backdrop of extraordinary turbulence in the Balkans. It covers more than half a century, five wars (including the two world wars), and four ideologies.
This is a time of excitement in Serbia as its leaders carve an independent state out of the Ottoman Empire and attempt to modernize a largely rural and “backward” corner of Europe. A time of opportunity for many who join in the effort to build the infrastructure of a modern economy, as well as the growing number of middle class families who send their children, in rare cases even girls, to the emerging system of state schools. Above all, a time of war, as the expanding Serbian state comes into conflict with its neighbors and, ultimately, the Great Powers of Europe.
Accompanied by an introductory study, Natalija’s diary provides a rich background to understanding the on-going conflict in the Balkans today.
List of Maps
Part I. Years of Hope, 1880–1911 Childhood; Learning Motherhood; Life and Politics in Small-Town Serbia; The Family Moves South; The Balkan Wars
Part II. Years of War, 1914–1924 The War Begins: July 1914 to October 1915; Refugees: October 1915 to January 1916; Life Under Occupation: 1916; Resistance: 1917; Endings: 1918; Beginnings: 1919
Part III. Years of Disappointment, 1924–1956 A New Country; A New Life: 1924–1927; Europe in Decline: 1932–1939; War Again: 1939–1945; Twilight Appendix: Natalija Matić-Zrnić and Her Family Glossary