July 13, 2020 - Today, Montenegro celebrates the Statehood Day, remembering the two most important dates in its history - on this day in 1878, the Berlin Congress recognized its independence. On July 13, 1941, the people of Montenegro led the peoples of Europe to resist fascism.
"O smallest of nations, the hard rock of a harder country, the throne of freedom, you great Montenegro," sang the English poet Alfred Tennyson. All that strength and freedom of a small - big nation seems to live forever in one date - July 13.
While number 13 is associated with the superstition that brings bad luck, it is unique for Montenegro - on that day in Berlin's Razeville Palace, in 1878, Montenegro's independence was recognized, and 63 years later the first nationwide uprising broke out in enslaved Europe.
Little Montenegro deserved to be written about by the London Times and The New York Times. The French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre said that the July 13 Uprising is one of the greatest achievements of the libertarian tradition of the 20th century, and his compatriot, former president Francois Mitterrand, that it was the most significant event of World War II.
And one of the dates on which a consensus was reached mainly in Montenegro -that the July 13 Uprising is an event of the most significant national pride.
"July 13 meant a lot to the people in 1941. Not only to us, but to everyone in Europe. While there was Tito, there would be no other greatest statesman, nor was there before him, at least for me, but also for many, because that was the time when we were all friends, we were all one, and we did not see any divisions, we paid great attention to 13 July. Later, some meetings or ceremonies were held in the theater, which I did not attend because I was not part of the theater, but again that date is always marked ", Danilo Miljanic from Niksic, who turned one hundred this spring, told "Vijesti".
He remembers a lot, records a lot, and leaves some things, as he says, to silence. Although the people in Montenegro took up arms on July 13, Uncle Danilo says that he had already seen weapons some twenty days earlier.
"I enrolled in the Officer School in Bileća, and at the end of March, we were deployed in military units. They sent me to the third company in Risan and charged me with a machine gun. We waited for the war there, but we were told that an agreement had been made with the Germans. After the bombing of Yugoslavia, they sent us home. I asked for a rifle in exchange for the machine gun, but it wasn't there, so I left the machine gun because I couldn't carry it. "
Miljanic recalls the Ustasha massacre of the Serb people in Herzegovina in early June and says many survivors fled to Montenegro.
"Immediately, fifteen of us from Muževica went to the border, and there we found Miljanić from Dubočak and formed the Miljanić company, whose commander in the first days was Risto Mashutov. My father was with me too. The Miljanic company, together with the companies from Grahovo, Tupan, Golija, was in that part towards the border. There we heard that on July 13, there were armed conflicts, that the whole of Montenegro rose. We were already under arms then," Miljanic recalls of the first days of the war.
Milovan Djilas came to Montenegro after the extended session of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (CPY), at which a decision was made to start an armed struggle. The people "reluctantly" accepted the idea, so instead of guerrilla actions, there were thirty thousand armed people, about 65 percent of the able-bodied population.
"Because of that uprising, the Italians had to withdraw six divisions from our side to appease Montenegro. The revolution lasted until mid-August when a strong Italian offensive suppressed it. It meant a lot that the whole nation stood up. The formation of the battalion began the following year, and in April, seven Montenegrin battalions were formed in the Niksić district, two in Velimlje and five in Niksić. July 13 meant a lot then, and it seems to me that it still does today," says the old man who was awarded the Medal for Courage for his success in the National Liberation War.
The President of the Association of Fighters of the People's Liberation War (UBNOR) and anti-fascist Nikšić, Slobodan Bato Mirjačić, said that July 13 was the brightest page in Montenegrin history because, on that day, Montenegrins rekindled their freedom.
"The platoons of the first Montenegrin insurgent rifles resounded in enslaved Europe. In a few days, most of Montenegro was liberated. It was the first popular uprising against the occupiers in Europe, an authentic Montenegrin event. Bearing in mind that the insurgents inflicted significant losses on the occupier and thwarted their political and military plans, the uprising was a unique phenomenon of the Second World War. It united the peculiarities and values of Montenegrin history and preserved its libertarian continuity," Mirjacic points out.
He recalls that Jean-Paul Sartre said about the uprising: "The July 13 uprising in Montenegro can serve the pride of the peoples of Europe."
"The uprising loudly announced that Montenegro would play a much more important role in the People's Liberation War, and thus in Yugoslavia, than the one that would belong to it in terms of population and size of its territory. With its participation and the sacrifices it made during the Second World War, Montenegro paved the way for the equality of its people in the new Yugoslavia. "We must preserve the achievements of July 13, for which many lives were given, to preserve the achievements of anti-fascism and independence, while nurturing the multiethnic and multi-religious harmony of all citizens of Montenegro," Mirjacic said.
Radislav Stanisic, President of the Central Committee of the Yugoslav Communist Party of Montenegro, said that the Montenegrin people, led by the communists, responded with an uprising to the decision of the Montenegrin Parliament on July 12, when Italian fascists and separatists decided to declare independent Montenegro.
The next day, with shots fired at Italian strongholds in Čevo, Virpazar, Košćeli, Crmnica and other places throughout Montenegro, with the song 'Without a spring, there is no water, no life without freedom,' the Montenegrin people said with gunfire that only they could decide their fate, and not a handful of separatists led by Sekula Drljević. Montenegrin fighters fought equally for every inch of Yugoslavia, not distinguishing the Karavanke from Lovćen, nor Zagreb from Podgorica, so the blood shed of fallen soldiers obliges us to do everything to prevent the destruction of the achievements of the People's Liberation War and the socialist revolution. The communists remind us that the people who won freedom with blood and built the country with sweat do not need any dictators."
After the Second World War, the Montenegrin government adopted a special law establishing July 13 as a national holiday. On that day, ceremonial academies, lectures, cultural and sports events were held, while the state leadership of Montenegro would attend the central celebration of the Uprising Day. It was recorded that on July 13, 1946, ten thousand people were present in Podgorica, eight thousand in Nikšić, five thousand in Danilovgrad, and about ten thousand in six municipalities in the Durmitor region.
Along with these large numbers, it was celebrated in other cities of Montenegro.
The following year, on July 13, Josip Broz Tito came to the then Titograd, and in 1948, on that day, the Titograd-Nikšić railway was opened.
Since 2006, when Montenegro became independent, July 13 has been celebrated as Statehood Day.
The month of freedom in enslaved Europe
According to historical sources, the Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia for Montenegro and Boka unanimously accepted the Central Committee's decision on the uprising, made on July 4 in Belgrade, on July 8 in Stijena Piperska, near Podgorica. In addition to Djilas, the meeting was attended by Bozo Ljumovic, Blazo Jovanovic, Radoje Dakic, Savo Brkovic, Budo Tomovic, Vido Uskokovic, Krsto Popivoda, and Perisa Vujosevic.
In Cetinje, on July 12, 1941, at the Petrovdan Parliament, the "Greens" decided to annul the Podgorica Assembly from 1918 and repeal the Constitution of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and all its institutions and declare the Independent State of Montenegro under the jurisdiction of fascist Italy.
In the early morning of July 13, the uprising began. Already on that day, Virpazar, Čevo, Rijeka Crnojevića, and parts of the coast from Miločer to Sutomore were liberated. Guerrilla fighting turned into a nationwide uprising on July 14, 15, and 16, historians say.
During July 15, Mojkovac, Bioče, Spuž, and Lijeva Rijeka were liberated, and a motorized battalion of the Italian division "Messina" was attacked near the village of Košćela, killing 70, wounding 110 and capturing 290 Italian soldiers.
Andrijevica was liberated on July 16, as were Bijelo Polje, Berane, Danilovgrad, Zabljak, Kolasin, Savnik, and Grahovo soon after.
One of the most significant battles was in Brajići, between Cetinje and Budva when a substantial Italian motorized column was attacked from an ambush - 220 Italians were thrown out of line, and insurgents had two dead and seven wounded.
A good part of Montenegro remained liberated until August 14, when significantly strengthened Italian troops quelled the uprising.
Translation of the text "July 13 lives, the achievements die out," Svetlana Mandić and Slavko Radulović, Vijesti