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.

Foreword

It has long been my desire to gather as much material and data about the history of Novi Bečej and Vranjevo and to preserve it in an appropriate manner to prevent it from being forgotten. If I haven't collected as much as I wanted, I've done the most I could. In today's cultural world, almost every family knows its origin, not to mention cities and villages. Unfortunately, it is not the case with us. In Banat, until the First World War, only a few cities had their written history. They were written by Hungarian and German historians whose lives were tied to those cities. On their foundations, further research was conducted, especially after the First, and particularly after the Second World War, resulting in more comprehensive histories or monographs of those cities. Novi Bečej and Vranjevo don't have something similar. Dr. Jene Sentklarai, born in Vranjevo, and later a parish priest for about fifteen years in Novi Bečej, gave a brief overview of the history of Novi Bečej and Vranjevo in his book "History of the Parish of the Čanad Diocese."

Dr. Šamu Borovski did a similar thing in his book "Torontal County and Cities," dedicating one page to each of these two places. Contributions to the history of Novi Bečej and Vranjevo were also made by Dr. Dušan Popović in the book "Serbs in Banat until the end of the 18th century" and Vasa Stajić, with more focus on Vranjevo, in the book "Velikokikindski District." I mention this not to emphasize the weight of my endeavor but to justify the shortcomings and gaps that probably exist in this book. I have had the pleasure of using, as a source of valuable data, the lecture by Ištvanfi Andrea, held at the turn of the two centuries (nineteenth and twentieth) on Novi Bečej and Novobečejci from the period after the Great Rebellion (1850-1890). Although the lecture is, to a large extent, burdened with patriotic bias, I used it (translated by Imre Levai) in its original form, leaving it to the readers to adopt what is realistic and objective. Ištvanfi vividly portrayed the life of a specific time with a unique style and vocabulary, perhaps unusual today but endearing, charming, and intimate. His description is particularly interesting because it is mostly full of joy and optimism.

I must emphasize the valuable and selfless assistance provided to me in research and data collection by my friends and comrades: Branislav Kiselički from Novi Bečej, Mr. Sredoje Lalić from Novi Sad, and Dr. Konstantin Vukov from Budapest. Significant help was provided, especially regarding data and materials related to the history of Hungarians in Novi Bečej and Vranjevo, by my friends Imre Levai and Ištvan Sekereš, both from Novi Bečej. Almost before submitting the manuscript of this book for printing, my friends Engineer Radovan Popov from Novi Bečej and Miloš Stančić from Velika Kikinda provided me with valuable data. I have encountered great understanding and helpfulness at the Historical Archive of Vojvodina in Sremski Karlovci, the Historical Archive of Zrenjanin, the Manuscript Department of Matica Srpska in Novi Sad, the National Library in Belgrade, the Library of the Serbian Academy of Sciences, and the Library of the Serbian Orthodox Patriarchate. I owe special gratitude to my reviewers who, without charge but very conscientiously and thoroughly, examined all the material contained, and with their favorable judgment, provided useful comments, most of which I accepted and made appropriate changes and additions to the book.

According to the first historical records, until the expulsion of the Turks from Banat, Novi Bečej appeared under the name Bečej. I emphasize this to avoid confusing readers about which place is being referred to, given that since 1947, the name Bečej belongs to Stari Bečej in Bačka. I kept in mind that in Novi Bečej and Vranjevo, Serbs and Hungarians live, so, using various sources (mostly Serbian), I tried to be critical, emphasizing the historical and life reality that they are obliged to live together. The differences between Serbs and Hungarians in recent times in Novi Bečej and Vranjevo are becoming fainter, and neighborly ties are becoming stronger. There are almost no purely Hungarian or purely Serbian neighborhoods and streets, and this is becoming more and more evident in marriages. Mixed marriages are an inevitability of common living and are encountered today in all layers, from workers to intellectuals. Although I tried to historically accurately depict events and occurrences, I do not claim that there was no bias and shortcomings in the materials I used, and some of that may be found in this book. It was challenging to maintain balance in presenting certain periods, phenomena, and events since it was often conditioned by available data.

It happened that for a significant period, the available material was scarce, and the next, perhaps less important, received more space. I found this more acceptable than impoverishing another period in the interest of balance. I sought to present as much material and data as possible and thus preserve them from oblivion, while ensuring they are available to those who want to use them. The economy, as well as a part of the superstructure (education, culture, entertainment, and recreation), are presented independently of the chronology of events in separate and standalone chapters. It could even be said that they represent the second part of the book. This was done due to the impossibility of temporally delimiting each economic sector or each area of the superstructure to fit into the chronological sequence of political events without losing a logical and realistic representation of the state and development of the respective area. In addition, I tried to enable readers-users of data about our economic or cultural past to find everything about it (of course, with what I had) in the chapter for the respective area without having to search the entire book if they are interested, for example, in agriculture or education.

I titled the book: "Novi Bečej and Vranjevo Through History," considering that it provides broader possibilities for presenting certain periods and events than if I had adopted the title: "History of Novi Bečej and Vranjevo." History would require a narrower presentation of events, only those directly related to the past of these two places. My wish is, for example, when highlighting prehistoric sites in the immediate vicinity of Novi Bečej and Vranjevo, to show what happened in the broader area. It is challenging to present the settlement of Vranjevo by border guards without first explaining the origin of the Potisje-Pomoriška border and the need, as well as the oscillation around its demilitarization after the expulsion of the Turks from Banat. Although the colonization of Germans is not directly related to Novi Bečej and Vranjevo, it predetermined the conditions, place, and time of settlement of Serbian border guards and Hungarians in Banat, or Novi Bečej and Vranjevo. One cannot speak about the Novi Bečej spahi Šišanji without first explaining the special status of Banat after the expulsion of the Turks and later the sale of state-owned estates to certain merchants and other wealthy individuals. An objective assessment or a realistic idea of the role of Serbs and Hungarians from Novi Bečej and Vranjevo in the Great Rebellion of 1848-49 or in the First World War of 1914-18 cannot be given if the causes are not considered and a general assessment of those events is not provided, etc. Such an approach may burden the book with general historical data, but my intention is for it to serve, first and foremost, the ordinary reader, who will benefit from precisely such an approach. I wanted the book to serve as a foundation or at least as an incentive for further research. Studying the past, in general, and the past of Novi Bečej and Vranjevo is an inexhaustible task that requires much more work to explore unexplored sites, materials, and data found in archives, museums, and libraries. I know that evaluating the past can never be completely objective and fair. However, I must say that I have made a special effort to ensure that my patriotic zeal is not present more than a fair reader could accept and justify.

 

In Belgrade, December 1986.

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