Nobel Prizegiving Decisions: Gone To The Dogs // Croatia, the War, and the Future

War Crimes Apologist Peter Handke To The Critics Of Genocide Perpetrated By Serbs: “You can stick your corpses up your arse!”

No declarative words can describe the emotions and content triggered by this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature better than the idiom “gone to the dogs”. Nobel Prize has all gone badly wrong and lost all the good things it had. Austrian author and playwright Peter Handke has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2019, with 2018’s postponed award going to Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk.

“You know it was we who protected you from the Asian hordes for centuries. And without us you would still be eating with your fingers.” So declares a character defending the Serbs (and their attendant massacres in the 1990’s war in Bosnia and Herzegovina/ no need to mention the Serb attendant massacres in Croatia during the same time – they are known also) in author Peter Handke’s war play “Die Fahrt im Einbaum oder Das Stueck zum Film vom Krieg” (The Journey into the Dug-out, or the Play of the Film of the War).

“Does the jury sincerely contend that Peter Handke’s appearance at the grave of mass murderer Slobodan Milosovic will advance understanding between nations? Does the brazenness with which Handke glosses over Serbian crimes and denies ethnic cleansing foster solidarity between peoples?” Hubert Spiegel, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 27 May 2006.

Milosevic died in 2006 while on trial at The Hague for war crimes pertaining to the Bosnian genocide, including his role in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys. Handke, however, eulogised Milosevic after the dictator’s death, and before an overflow crowd of some 20,000 radical Serb nationalists. Fourteen Serb war criminals, Milosevic’s men, have been convicted of genocide and other crimes against humanity by the International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) at the Hague including former Military Commander Radislav Krstic, former President of Republika Srpska (Serbian Republic) Radovan Kadadzic and Bosnian Serb Military Leader Ratko Mladic, also known as the “Butcher of Bosnia”. Handke’s alignment with Milosevic has been so controversial that in 2006, his nomination for the Heinrich Heine Prize was ultimately withdrawn and yet, here we are in 2019, the Nobel Committee. While acknowledging the controversy regarding his apologetic stand on war crimes committed by Serbs the Nobel Committee still awards Handke the Prize!

According to an article published in The Irish Times in April 1999, when critics pointed out that the victims’ corpses of Serb genocide provide evidence of Serb war crimes, Handke replied: “You can stick your corpses up your arse.”

It would seem, sadly, that the Nobel Committee ignored the fact that a controversy does not stand for its own sake but for the sake of upholding to the decent level the world’s moral compass. What a shame! How scandalous indeed!

Pater Handke Photo: Getty images

On Thursday 10 October 2019 Peter Handke, 76, won the 2019 Nobel for Literature “for an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience,” according to the Swedish Academy, the cultural institution responsible for awarding it. If writing about massacre and genocide in order to support the perpetrator then we can all do without this “periphery and specificity of human experience” being elevated to the Nobel! Kosovo’s ambassador to the United States, Vlora Çitaku, tweeted that the award was a “scandalous decision,” adding that “genocide deniers and Milosevic apologists should not be celebrated.” “Have we become so numb to racism, so emotionally desensitized to violence, so comfortable with appeasement that we can overlook one’s subscription and service to the twisted agenda of a genocidal maniac? We must not support or normalize those who spew hatred. You can do better! Nobel,” Vlora Çitaku tweeted further.

In a statement published by PEN America, the organisation that promotes literary freedom of expression said it was “dumbfounded” by the decision to honour a writer “who has used his public voice to undercut historical truth and offer public succour to perpetrators of genocide.”

“We are dumbfounded by the selection of a writer who has used his public voice to undercut historical truth and offer public succor to perpetrators of genocide, like former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic,” they wrote.

“At a moment of rising nationalism, autocratic leadership, and widespread disinformation around the world, the literary community deserves better than this. We deeply regret the Nobel Committee on Literature’s choice.”

Within just over a day from the announcement of the Nobel Prize award to Peter Handke 25,000 have signed an online Petition to the Nobel Committee seeking to revocation his Nobel! The Petition says: ”Peter Handke is an apologist for the “butcher of Balkans” Slobodan Milosevic. Person who was responsible for wrongful death of hundreds of thousands of innocent people and tens of thousands of raped women and men. A person who defends such a monster does not deserve a simplest literary recognition let alone a Nobel Prize. Let us send a loud and clear message to the Nobel Prize Committee, that we do not condone rewarding apologists of mass murderers.”

Winning a Nobel Prize is usually a cause for celebration in the Nobel laureate’s home country as well as worldwide. It is a point of pride in glorious achievements individuals can reach. This pride runs very thin when a laureate’s personal stand outside the works that deserved the Nobel becomes bitter and anger-provoking.

According to AlJazeera, Handke told Serbia’s state TV on Thursday, the night before the Nobel Prize award, that he felt Serbians’ “happiness because of the big award that I have received”, adding that they will celebrate with “a rakija [brandy] and a glass of white wine”.

The Nobel has gone to the dogs! No doubt about that, just a loud shriek of despair! If the world erected a pillar of shame, then this episode with Peter Handke at the Nobel would surely be etched at the top of the list.

Ravaged by infighting, accusations of corruption, and connections with serious sexual assault allegations, the Swedish Academy said in May 2018 that the Nobel Prize for Literature, traditionally announced every autumn, was cancelled for that year. Prior to Thursday 10 October 2019 observers said this year’s prize has the potential to mark a comeback from the events of last year. Having recognised how low trust was in the Academy. The Nobel Prize is considered by many as the leader in efforts to push things in the other direction, and to open the windows. The only window that has been opened this time around seems to be the one that tells people to forget genocide, even the Holocaust, to forget the atrocities perpetrated by Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina because they weren’t so bad! Ask the victims of Serb genocidal aggression about that! Ask anyone!

The Swedish Academy for the Nobel Prize lost a lot with not only the accusations of sexual harassment and sexism, and the man who ended up in jail for rape, but also in how they handled the situation with their own members. It will take time to regain trust and respectability. The catharsis has not occurred yet. The untouchable patriarchs are still ruling, and this is demonstrated by the scandalous decision to award the 2019 Nobel for Literature to Peter Handke for whom the horror of war crimes depends on who perpetrates the war crimes! The catastrophe for human decency of this year’s Nobel for Literature can only be crushed by cancelling the one awarded to Peter Handke. Ina Vukic

Source: // Croatia, the War, and the Future

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