Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through History

Explore the extraordinary past of Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through the pages of the book 'Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through History.' Uncover political events, economic development, and cultural heritage of these Banat towns through richly documented stories. Follow the evolution from the earliest days to the present, delving into the intricate threads of political intrigues, economic transformations, and cultural ascensions. Experience the past through the eyes of the author as the pages of the book unfold before you, providing a unique perspective on the life and legacy of these significant locales.

The Socialist Movement in Novi Bečej and Vranjevo

There is no reliable data on when the socialist movement in Novi Bečej and Vranjevo originated, but it can be said with almost certainty that it was somewhere in the 1890s. This is indicated by a story in the manuscript of Vladimir Boberić, a priest, later bishop of Boka Kotorska, originally from Vranjevo. In the story "Pop Blagoja" (the manuscript is located in Matica Srpska) - Boberić recounts the struggle of the priest Blagoje (a fictional name, referring to a specific priest from Vranjevo) against the Nazarenes and Communists for every believer - Serb in Vranjevo. Among the communists, he mentions a mason named Dina (a fictional name) who was killed by Hungarian gendarmes during a mason uprising due to low wages while building the manor of the nobility in 1899.

The case of the mason Dina certainly wouldn't have deserved the attention of the priest Blagoje, let alone to be written through a story, if there wasn't a new movement behind it, which endangered Orthodoxy in Vranjevo. The movement undoubtedly emerged several years earlier and gradually spread. The struggle of the church and priests in Vranjevo against communism probably began two or three years before the mentioned murder of the mason Dina.

With the murder of Dina, the movement certainly didn't disappear but continued its continuity until the First World War, and even after, but - unfortunately - there is no data to confirm that. The choices of our fellow citizens who found themselves in Russian captivity during the outbreak of the October Revolution in 1917 fairly convincingly confirm this.

Contrary to some beliefs that the socialist movement in Novi Bečej and Vranjevo arose after the return of our fellow citizens from captivity in Russia, the socialist ideas they brought from their places contributed to Novobečejci and Vranjevčani siding with the revolution in Russian captivity. Namely, at the outbreak of the October Revolution, all of them joined the ranks of the Red Army, and it is not known that any of them were in the tsarist ranks. They formed the Red Guard and chose their own leaders - commanders of squads and companies, and even larger combat units. This means that all of them, even before going to war, were imbued with that ideology, and among them were those who belonged to the socialist movement, who continued to propagate those ideas in war and captivity. When the revolution broke out, our fellow citizens followed their agitators in the fight to overthrow tsarism in Russia.

In Russia, in May 1917, a mass organization "Yugoslav Revolutionary Alliance" was founded by prisoners, which had about 2000 members, many of whom were from Novi Bečej and Vranjevo.

With the outbreak of the October Revolution, the "First Revolutionary Shock Battalion" was formed in Russia, consisting of 500 volunteers, whose task was to defend revolutionary Russia from external enemies. Red guards and partisans came from all parts of Yugoslavia, but there were mostly Serbs from Vojvodina and Croatia. "In Vojvodina, literally there is no village or settlement from which there were no red fighters, not to mention Kuman, Vranjevo, Elemir, etc., from which entire squads and companies were composed."

Among the fighters for the socialist October, Nikola Kresojević emphasizes our fellow citizen Roman Filipčev with a group of internationalists from Yugoslavia.

In the newly created state - the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, Novobečejci are not absent from the forefront - in the fight against exploitation. In the autumn of 1919, those who participated in the October Revolution founded the Local organization of the Socialist Workers' Party (Communists). The organization had about three hundred members, with Roman Filipčev, Šandor Nađ, and others at the helm.

In the same year, a party group was also founded in Vranjevo, which in 1920 grew into a local organization of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, by former participants in the October Revolution in Russia. The organizers were Živa Gurjanov, Luka Glavaški, Bogdan Boberić, and others. These organizations were particularly active in campaigning for deputies, for the communist candidate Nikola Norvačević, in the 1920 elections for the Constituent Assembly. In these elections, for the Novi Bečej district, Nikola Kovačević won, and thus the Communist Party gained another representative in the Assembly.

After the adoption of the Law on the Protection of the State and the introduction of censorship, the work of these organizations was banned, and the organizers were arrested. However, this did not discourage the membership, and a good part of their activity was expressed in illegal conditions. Ideological education and information on the political situation were daily tasks of members of the illegal Communist Party and its sympathizers.

Slobodan Perić, a young worker from Vranjevo who worked as a metal turner in Belgrade, founded the SKOJ organization in the spring of 1931, which had around twenty members.

At the end of August 1934, members of this SKOJ group were arrested. They were mistreated by the gendarmerie and the district chief himself. In November 1934, a trial was held before the District Court in Veliki Bečkerek, where Slobodan Perić was sentenced to eighteen months in prison, Bora Glavaški and Budislav Boškov to one year each, while the others were acquitted.

Slobodan Perić contracted tuberculosis in prison and soon after his release, he died in Vranjevo. His comrades organized an unprecedented farewell for him. Before several hundred residents of Vranjevo and Novi Bečej, Fedor Kiselički bid farewell to Slobodan at his grave on behalf of the progressive youth. He condemned the brutality of the authorities that led to the premature death of such a noble young man and fighter for the rights of the oppressed and exploited, as Slobodan Perić was. Slobodan's funeral represented a form of protest by the youth and people of Novi Bečej and Vranjevo against the regime at the time.

Until March 1936, the trade youth was led by a group of the most famous merchants of Novi Bečej. That year, the organization of the Novi Bečej-Vranjevo Trade Youth was exclusively taken over by trade assistants, and Milan Jakšić, a young store owner, was elected as president.

All the previous activities of the Trade Youth were to hold dances with the Novi Bečej Sokol Society, where the Trade Youth orchestra played, and once a year to organize a trade party.

The newly elected Board of Directors in 1936 initiated new activities. At the initiative of Branko Petrović - Cifrić and Laza Mečkić, the youth emerged as a political factor among trade assistants, protecting their interests. Their first action in this role was in June 1936.

The Association of Merchants for the Novi Bečej District sent a request to the Trade Youth to agree that during the wheat harvest (grain trade), trading establishments be open on Sundays from six to twelve o'clock. The Board of Directors of the Trade Youth demanded (with a very categorical rejection from wealthy merchants who attended the meeting) that this work be paid as overtime, which had not been done in previous years. For the owners of trading establishments, this was a big surprise and disturbance. The Board of Directors of the Trade Youth insisted on their demand, and that summer, trading establishments were not open on Sundays because the owners refused to pay trading assistants separately for that work.

During the following year, 1937, the Trade Youth organized its first trips to the large agricultural estates of Ivanović (Sokolac) and Rohonci (Pearl Island). These trips were a novelty, so the response of the girls and boys was all the more surprising. The Trade Youth orchestra played on the trips, and there was singing and dancing to the music.

At the end of September 1936, the Youth Cultural-Economic Movement OMPOK was founded in Novi Sad, and soon local organizations were established in Veliki Bečkerek (Zrenjanin) and other major towns in Vojvodina. In December of that year, an initiative committee was formed in Novi Bečej to establish a local OMPOK organization. In mid-January 1937, the founding assembly was held, where the Management and Supervisory Boards were elected, and from that day on, the organization developed very lively activities among the youth of Novi Bečej and Vranjevo. Oral newspapers were held in the hall of the Vojvodina Hotel, where Stevica Jovanović, Vladimir Kolarov - Koča, and Đura Jovanović, student communists from Zrenjanin, spoke.

In its modest premises located at Žarko Zrenjanin Street No. 10, OMPOK held evening gatherings where books were read, and poems by our progressive poets were recited. Wall newspapers were issued every two weeks.

The event organized by OMPOK in the hall of Veselin Nićin's tavern, located at the corner of Žarko Zrenjanin and Svetozar Miletić Streets (a building now owned by lawyer Zlatko Marić), was an exceptional occasion. Not only were the hall and anterooms packed, but there were also many people at the doors and around the windows from the street who wanted to express their solidarity with OMPOK's ideas and actions.

In collaboration with the Novi Bečej-Vranjevo Trade Youth, OMPOK organized a dance on August 27, 1937, on the eve of the celebration of the Novi Bečej monastery, in the Sokolana hall. Besides the local youth, young people from neighboring towns in Bačka, who came on a religious pilgrimage to the monastery, also attended. Before the dance, one of the progressive youth from Novi Bečej, Branko Arsenijević, delivered a speech outlining the role and goals of the struggle of Vojvodina's youth within OMPOK. This dance soon became the reason for the prohibition of the Novi Bečej-Vranjevo Trade Youth.

By the decision of the Ban of the Danube Banovina dated November 10, 1937, the district chief for the Novi Bečej district disbanded the local OMPOK organization. It is necessary to emphasize that the activity of the Novi Bečej local OMPOK organization was one of the more prominent ones in Vojvodina.

Immediately after OMPOK's activities were banned, the Novi Bečej-Vranjevo Trade Youth was temporarily banned as well. Its activities were resumed only in the spring of 1939, when new musical instruments were purchased, including an accordion, saxophone, double bass, drums, and others, to rekindle the youth's interest in the work that existed until 1936. However, the revived Youth couldn't engage trade assistants as successfully as the Administration did in 1936-37.

At the initiative of the Kumane Communist Party organization, a KPJ party cell was established in Novi Bečej in November 1938. Besides the members of that cell, Sredoje - Taca Stanislavljev from Kumane and Milutin Mojsin from Melenac attended the first meeting. Rep Karolj, a German upholsterer from Novi Bečej, was elected as the secretary.

The local KPJ cell, through its sympathizers, initiated the establishment of a workers' football club alongside the Football Club Zvezda, which at that time was predominantly composed of Ljotić supporters (followers of the fascist movement in Serbia and Vojvodina, named after its leader Dimitrije Ljotić, a lawyer from Smederevo). Thus, in the summer of 1940, the Zanatlija Football Club was founded, whose activity was short-lived as World War II soon broke out, and the club ceased to exist. In its brief existence, it managed to gather about twenty young people, mostly Hungarians, and organize regular trainings and play three football matches.

The workers of Novi Bečej did not fail at crucial moments in the history of the Yugoslav peoples. On March 27, 1941, the day of the general national protest against Yugoslavia's accession to the Tripartite Pact (the Tripartite Pact comprised Germany, Italy, and Japan), Novi Bečejci and Vranjevčani took to the streets to demonstrate their dissatisfaction and contribute to the annulment of that agreement.

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