August 4, 2020

The rehabilitation of the eternal young Austrian

Peter Handke is banned in much of Europe. It may be that the award of the Nobel Prize for Literature involves lifting the punishment. Perhaps return to the bitter controversy of the 90s or cast a new look on the Austrian writer's support for Serbia during the Yugoslavian war. “Justice for Serbia” (Alliance) opened a wound in European intelligence that quickly took sides in favor of the other side. But what side? Slovenians who only shed the blood of the Federal Army? Bosnian Muslims? Those who now live constrained between Serbia and Croatia and the great Balkan corruption? They were the favorite victims, rightly (there is no garden in Sarajevo that is not speckled by white tombstones, like stationary pigeons), without even wondering about the causes of this civil war that had, as always in these massacres between brothers, actors internationals hidden in the stretch. Germany hit the first chip with its steel finger and the entire domino was displaying a terrible drawing.

Handke did not hide his support for Serbia from anyone: he also went to Milosovic's funeral to his hometown, in 2006, when everything seemed forgotten, even the writer himself. He did not hide.

On June 12, 1996, he visited Madrid to present “Justice for Serbia” and read a fragment: that of a woman who talked about the piles of corpses coming down the Drina River. Right there, at the Carlos de Antwerp Foundation, he was accused of being an accomplice of Serbian crimes, including closing his eyes at the Srebrenica massacre. And the worst: to deny its existence.

But Handke had his reasons for this descent into hell. "Something drives me to go behind the mirror," he wrote in "A Winter Trip to the Danube, Save, Moravia and Drina Rivers" (1996). Everything he read, all the images, all the dead, came from only one side, always from the "aggressor" – the quotes are his – Serbian. He decided to travel on his own, without the invitation of any side. The result was two long articles appeared at the beginning of 1996 in the "Süddeutsche Zeitung", which provoked the anger of a good part of the European press, with special vibe of "Le Monde". But before he saw "Underground" (1995), Emir Kusturica's film, and understood some of the history of the former Yugoslavia – the filmmaker is a Serb born in Sarajevo – and those who would soon throw him into hell without smelling the flesh burned

In the front row are Alain Finkielkraut, "one of the new French philosophers", and since the war broke out "an incomprehensible charlatan in favor of the state of Croatia"; or Andrés Glucksmann, who thought he saw in the Kusturica movie a "settling of accounts with" Serbian terrorist communism. And finally, of course, Henry-Lévi, "one of the new philosophers, one of those who proliferate today, who are everywhere and nowhere."

Handke travels through Serbia and begins to have no answer for questions he pampers himself. He doubts that the two attacks on the Sarajevo market will be the work of Serbs stationed in the hills, neither the bombing of Dubrovnik, nor Srebrenica. Downstream, thirty kilometers from the enclave are the sandals of a child, and they ask him. He does not doubt it, but asks for an investigation.

Handke, a great connoisseur of Spain, a walker in La Mancha, Gredos and Soria – here he was inspired to write “Essay on fatigue” -, he always criticized how European public opinion, Germans, Croats, Slovenes, well-known people far from the rivers stained with blood, they built a monstrous enemy, Serbia, not wanting to know anything else. Washing the hands. Now, Handke still wonders if the peace with which the Bosnian war was ended, compartmentalizing mountains and rivers, town by town, in a borderland and in ridiculous "little states" was the price to placate such a bad conscience.

. (tagsToTranslate) manuel calderón

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