It used to be Macho

Шабац or Šabac is a city situated in Central Serbia and is the forerunner of social innovation in the country.

The citizens, building on its rich and turbulent history which established it as a social and economic forerunner in Serbia, are already one foot in the European Union.

Local People’s Museum in Šabac entertains and educates with an insightful and critical permanent exhibition. It tells stories about the challenges and development, historic turbulences, and anecdotes from the citizens’ lives.

Adding to a playful game of words, in its younger days, between the 13th and 14th century, Šabac was called Macho.

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In the People’s Museum Šabac is one peculiar exhibit: a poster illustrating strong political polarization of the 1930s. This chilling piece of propaganda is weighing the advantages of Nazism and disadvantages of Bolshevism for Serbia of those days.

It is particularly interesting to read it nowadays. History of over 70 years has deposited layers of meanings and twists in the interpretation of this simplistic propaganda.

One could think that the poster requires little or no interpretation, as its language (we learned) simultaneously and clearly denounces and promotes social divisions and violence. Nevertheless, it is an excellent starting point for discussing history and politics, and understanding the meandering significance of symbols, words, and values they represent.

The poster says (some parts illegible):

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“What would happen if Bolshevism won? Serbian name would disappear and Serbia would become an insignificant, small Soviet republic. The street scum, steeped in blood, would rule. And then one and only one thought would come to the front of the mind: merely to preserve one’s life! Clerk and merchant, physician and lawyer, politician and peasant, home-owner and worker, male and female, old and young, would be marked shamefully as “bourgeoise”. They would use this excuse to make everyone suffer, guilty and innocent.

Anarchy and chaos would swallow millions of lives. Human honor and dignity would be humiliated, and religion and family [illegible], and all people’s ideals thrown into the mud. Mongoloid scum [illegible] country. Rivers of blood would flow all over Serbia. Wild ranting of [illegible] and vengeful scum would become an everyday occurrence. Those who would survive this would sink into spiritual and material misery. Serbia, the land of Karađorđe and Miloš, would become a land of slaves.

What will happen when National-socialism wins! Serbian people will become a member of a great European family. Serbia will not serve as a bargaining tool between great countries. Fear from wars will vanish, and the people will be devoted to increasing their own and general well-being, with the support of united Europe. Labor will become one and true value. People’s spiritual treasures, faith, family, all cultural traditions, private property, a real driving force of development, [illegible].

It is your choice: GERMANY – LIFE or BOLSHEVISM – DEATH!”

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