"Here once stood... Skopje"

posted by istanbul on 2009/06/19 18:41

[ City, art, and architecture in Tito's Yugoslavia ]

Going through my old files, I rediscovered an enthralling text I once excerpted from a book the "Yugoslav Federal Secretariate for Information" published soon after the devastating earthquake in Skopje in 1963, in several languages. The following excerpt is from the (unpaginated) German edition [Hier stand einst Skopje. Belgrad: Bundessekretariat für Informationen, 1963]:

Skopje ist jetzt vernichtet.
Skopje wird von neuem entstehen.
Die Entschlossenheit der Völker Jugoslawiens und die Solidarität der Menschen aus der ganzen Welt werden bewirken, dass die Stadt wieder aufblüht.


And:

Wenngleich die fremden Touristen, die diese Stadt besuchten, in ersten Linie nach den Überresten alter Zivilisationen forschten, sahen die Jugoslawen in ihr vor allem eine neue und moderne Stadt. Skopje war tatsächlich die Verkörperung der Bemühung einers ganzen Volkes, eines ganzen Landes, die rückständige Vergangenheit, mag sie auch exotisch gewesen sein, durch eine moderne, zeitgenössische Gesellschaft zu ersetzen.


And this is from a tourist guidebook published two years later; on the impact of the earthquake and the "old Skopje", here called exotically oriental, the modern city was to gradually marginalize:

Stari deo grada imao svoj trgovački centar. To je čaršija sa egzotičnom prodavnicama sa ćepencima … Budući da je turskog tipa grad nije ni mogai drukčiji. Zato su u ovom delu grada ulice krive, tesne, popločane turskom kaldrmom ... To je stari deo Skopja koji danas iščezava. Minareta džamija nisu danas najviše građevina u ovom delu grada. Crveni crepovi novih kuća, gledani iz daljina liće na velike cvetove u bokovima ruža. Minaretima prkose šestopratina koje su ovde podignule. Skopje će se za nekoliko godina oprostiti i ovog vidljivog junake svoje teške prošlosti. Turisti će gledati samo po koji ostatat ‘Orijenta’ ... Skopje na levoj obali Vardara je taj prvi, stari ‘grad’, a onaj drugi, savremeni, nalazi se na desnoj obali reke. (Popovski, Jovan. Skopje: Turistički vodič. Skopje, 1965, pp. 13-5)

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