Monday, March 12, 2012

grave post #11

After some research - exhausting research - I admit, I am still very confused between the Serbs, Bosnians and Croats who all seemed to live side by side. This headstone seems to be written in Croatian and Serbian. Serbian uses the Cyrillic alphabet while Croatian uses the Latin. Serbo-Croatian is the only language that actively uses both. The Serbian and Bosnian varieties has both, while the Croatian variety uses only the Latin. No wonder it is confusing!

Culic, I discovered, is a Croatian name.
And, as you can no doubt decipher, Bosna would mean they were from Bosnia. Croats who lived in Bosnia and spoke Serbian. And were Catholic. Many Catholic Croats were expelled during the Bosnian War.


My first thought when I saw this headstone was that it was odd to have a picture of each of them on a stone when they had passed on during the war. But a bit of translating and it seems

božijom rođen = born by God, so Nikola and Anda were born during the war.

Then I thought it was a little off putting to have a picture of themselves on a stone before they had passed on. But...

ovde počiva u miru = here rests in peace

u selu  translates as from the village with the entire phrase turning into 
in a grove near the village of the Black Bean - or Lug - Bosnian  

Bosnian Grahovo is now the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina but at one time before the war (WWII) it was the largest community in Bosnia with 4,000 inhabitants, but the villages were decimated after a Chetnik uprising where Serbian rebels looted and burned Croatian homes and massacred the inhabitants. Apparently the Chetniks wanted no Croats living there and prevented any from returning during the Italian occupation. All this started on July 27, 1941. Two days after Anda Culic was born.

I had to look up Chetnik, a term I had heard but was not all that intimate with. Chetniks were a Serbian nationalist and monarchist paramilitary movement that formed in 1904 against the Ottoman Empire. They don't sound like nice people.

I have no idea how these two, Nikola and Anda, managed to survive, or when they emigrated to Canada. Did they meet here, or somewhere in exile in another part of Yugoslavia and emigrate together? Did they have to endure firsthand the atrocities of the Bosnian War as adults after enduring the Second World War. And when did they die? Why is this information not included? Although they were very young when these atrocities occurred in the villages of their birth, they (or their children who erected this headstone) are obviously very closely connected to their homeland. That may seem an odd statement, but I am not nearly so emotionally connected to the birthplaces of my parents.

But then the village in Scotland where some of my ancestors are from was not decimated by the English.

To read about other ancestral stories check out Taphophile Tragics

22 comments:

  1. Very ornate stone...I find stones with photos on them to be just a tad creepy.

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    1. I'm seeing more of that, and while it is nice to have a face to look at, it is a bit creepy.

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  2. SO Many have died due to hatred of each other, its so wrong..at least they escaped the terror happening in their homeland..it is a puzzle why the dates are missing on the stone!!

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    1. we are so blessed to be living without all that hatred on our doorstep.

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  3. You've done a lot of work on this!
    I wonder if the two departed had the stone made up before their deaths, and their survivors haven't yet had the "departure date" put in...?

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    1. You have no idea just how much work...... and I feel as if I got nowhere!
      Maybe they are still alive. There is one N Culic listed.

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  4. First of all, it is only Serbs who use Cyrillic. And Bosnian Grahovo, before WWII was almost predominately Serbian Orthodox, according to a Wikipedia article in Croatian language which was google translated to:
    Before the Second World War, Bosansko grahovski district, according to census 1931st year, had 26 118 inhabitants and the Orthodox - 24 644 (94.35%), Catholics - 1419 (5.43%) and Muslims - 48 (0.18%) , 7 (0.04%) were of other religious beliefs.

    So you see 94.35% of the people there were Serbs and only 5.43% were Catholic/Croat.
    I also think those "C's" in the corners are the Serbian 4 C's symbol.
    See wikipedia article on the Serbian cross: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serbian_cross

    And if they were Serbs their family would have been escaping the Ustasha in WWII - look up that for some really horrible people who even astonished the Nazis with the cruelty, according to actual records kept by the German soldiers occupying the region.

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    1. Such is the problem with relying on wikipedia for information - sometimes it contradicts or is unreliable. I was looking up Serbian language, which is where I got the cyrillic and latin referencing. The translations I got from Croat since I couldn't type in the Serbian. We will never know which atrocious events this family lived through. I just hope they found a happy life in Canada after they emigrated here.

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  5. A lovely touching photo and a fascinating history- thanks!

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    1. thanks. the history got bogged down a bit in details, but it is certainly a rich one.

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  6. This was a fascinating post. Obviously there is a history to that grave stone and you have researched it pretty well but maybe there will never be an answer.
    I do enjoy moving around grave yards myself!
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

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    1. for once I wished I had an iphone so I could have looked up some of this info while I was there so I could have looked around a bit more to see if there were other clues.

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  7. An unusual and elaborate memorial, the snow reflected in the marble shows how highly polished it must be.

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    1. the black was very shiny and proved a challenge to photographing!

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  8. Yes, many foreign countries have photos on nthe graves. Here we don't do that very often. I am always surprised to see them. But a date would have been helpful.

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    1. a date would have been very helpful!

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  9. Fascinating! It's surprising how much you can learn from a gravestone and how it can make you want to search for more information.

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  10. That's really interesting. I think I'd hate to have my likeness on a gravestone, though.

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  11. That entire peninsula is a seething mass of complexities and contradictions, Sanna. You did a grand job of trying to unravel it for us. Thanks also to James for his input. I have seen those Serbian 4C before. When the Australian Open Tennis was played in Melbourne a couple of years ago, there was a demonstration in favour of a particular play, and this flag with the 4Cs was wildly waved around.

    There are not many graves in Australian cemeteries where the photographs are etched into the rock itself. However, there are quite a few where the image is attached to the rock with some sort of frame. It is a trifle unsettling o actually be able to imagine the person who lies yonder.

    Thanks for this, Sanna. I do so love all the variety that we are being presented with each week in this meme.

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  12. What an interesting puzzle you found! This is such an enlightening meme... at least for us Taphophile Tragics! I echo the sentiments of others who applaud you for the work you put into this post. And I enjoy the enthusiastic participation of everyone. In the cemetery of my Painted Church post some weeks back I also found headstones with photos and birth dates, but no death dates, and I assumed it was because the intended bodies of the souls who would end up interred there were not yet dead. Such could be the case here...

    [Thanks for missing me! I've been in China where the government block access to social media. We enjoyed the Chinese New Year with friends and did some consulting work. Unfortunately I expect my blogging will continue to be rather sporadic in the months ahead... just too much work on my plate. :-) ]

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  13. It's fairly common on some older graves here in the U.S. to have photos of the deceased, but usually they're small, 2 or 3 inches. Very unusual to have a large representation of them like that.

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  14. So many sad stories one encounters in cemetery plots...

    Italian graves usually have an obligatory portrait of the deceased and it used to be also fairly common on some Greek graves, although it is rapidly going out of fashion.

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