Archives of Memories: Presentations of the History of Novi Bečej through Anecdotes, Photographs and Untold Stories

Breathe life into the forgotten stories of Novi Bečej through our rich collection of articles dedicated to people and events from the past. Travel through the ages, exploring the colorful array of historical moments that shaped our city. Here, memories and reality meet, bringing old streets, stories and events to life through interesting anecdotes, untold legends and rare photographs. Experience Novi Bečej from a new angle, through the eyes of the past that shaped our present, while we try to preserve the spirit and heritage that makes our city unique.

Aleksandra Zadonska – Madama

Aleksandra Zadonska – Madam

(December 27, 1897, Kharkov – December 13, 1981, Novi Bečej)

Aleksandra Zadonska was born in the Russian city of Kharkov on December 27, 1897, to father Ivan Zadonski and mother Nadežda1. The exact date of her arrival in Novi Bečej is unknown, but it is certain that the Zadonski family found themselves in Switzerland during the Russian October Revolution. As members of the higher bourgeois class, they could not return to their country and found refuge in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes – in Belgrade. They lived there for some time until after the death of the family head, when Aleksandra Zadonska came to Novi Bečej around 1925.

Aleksandra Zadonska – MadamDue to the revolutionary events of 1917, the Kharkov Institute moved in 1920 through Bulgaria and Belgrade to Novi Bečej. The Kharkov Institute enjoyed the patronage of Maria Feodorovna, the Russian Empress, and in Novi Bečej, it operated under the high protection of Her Majesty Queen Maria2. The institute was relocated to Bela Crkva in 1932, and a small group of Russian families and individuals, including Aleksandra Zadonska, remained in Novi Bečej.

As an unmarried woman, which she remained for the rest of her life, she had to take care of herself, so she began to give French, German, and Russian language lessons to students. The manners and movements of the delicate and seemingly fragile young teacher immediately revealed her aristocratic background. From her small eyes radiated a gentle gaze of infinite tranquility and crystal purity. Perhaps her gaze sometimes seemed stern, but the students could not miss the gentle smile on her lips. She never demanded to be called by her name or as a teacher, but simply Madame. Madame prepared many students from Novi Bečej and Vranjevo for written exams, taught them to pass exams, and, not least, taught them to master foreign languages.

Years passed, generations of students came and went, and Madame continued her teaching mission. She lived to see the end of World War II and the arrival of the communists in power, about whom she often joked with some older students. In the 1960s and 1970s, she still gave lessons but without any compensation. The parents of her students were very attentive to the old Madame and regularly showered her with cakes, fruit, and various foods. Students who had grown into adults and completed various schools often visited her to see her, talk to her, and help her. Madame did not need help or pity, but she was very happy to be in the company of her students.

As her health and strength slowly declined in 1977, she agreed to be placed in a nursing home. With extremely modest, almost nonexistent demands, Madame enjoyed great attention from the staff, withdrawn into herself, into her thoughts. She was a quiet resident of the home.

On December 14, 1981, she peacefully closed her eyes, but a smile remained on her lips, a smile that the inhabitants of our town will never forget. Novi Bečej's "our" Madame was buried in the Orthodox cemetery in the presence of many educators, students, and pupils.

1 Extract from the Register of Deaths, Novi Bečej
2 Zoran Mačkić, Archives of the Republic of Srpska

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