“To which extent cultural heritage belongs to women?”– significant women buried at the New Cemetery in Belgrade


Shortly before the planned round table on the subject: "To which extent  cultural heritage belongs to  women?", organized within by the Program "Share Your Knowledge" on the occasion of the European Year of Cultural Heritage  (2018), mentors and alumni of the Program, who visited the New Cemetery in Belgrade on August 25, 2018, with the expert guidance of our colleague, Dr Violeta Obrenović, art historian and outstanding connoisseur of the funerary and memorial culture and the history of the New Cemetery, were able to hear the inspiring life stories of the educated, free-spirited women struggled to overcome the limitations imposed by the society and the period they lived in, such as:

Teodora Korać (daughter of merchant Ilija Korać who provided financial support to poor girls to marry the member of the trade youth, thus helping young couples to start their life together), Anka Obrenović, a daughter of Jevrem Obrenović, one of the most educated women of her time, in addition to Katarina Konstantinović, educated beauty of tragic fate, who almost married Prince Mihailo Obrenović, later adopted Delfa Ivanić, one of the future founders of the "Circle of Serbian Sisters".

In addition to the outstanding WWI heroine Milunka Savić who joined the Serbian Army posing as a male, two more significant women who participated in the WWI as soldiers are buried at the New Cemetery of Belgrade: Sofija Jovanović, a member of Duke Voja Tankosić guerrilla company (Comitas), who participated in the First and Second Balkan Wars and was decorated 13 times. Natalija Bjelajac (Slovenian by origin, born as Antonija Javornik) was a sergeant in the Serbian Army and voluntary nurse, participant in the Battle of Cer. She was decorated 12 times. Maga Magazinović was a philosopher, librarian, choreographer, dancer, journalist, social and cultural activists, teacher and translator, Milica Jakovljević Mir-Jam was an author and journalist, free-spirited women, who through her literary and artistic work tried to teach the young people how to cope with the challenges of the modern living. Particularly emotional life story was that of Anica Savić Rebac, the author, poet, translator philosopher and, who corresponded with the great German author Thomas Mann and whose great love with the politician and diplomat Hasan Rebac, the author Dame Rebeca West described in her novel "Mehmed and Milica", referring to them as the "Pillars of Civilization".

The following are inspiring stories of two exceptional women:

Katarina Milovuk was the first Headmistress of the Higher School for Women, women rights activist, who fought for the female right to vote and acquire education. Almost forgotten today, she paved the road for the new female intellectual elite, who would be in the first lines of the battle for female rights in patriarchal Serbia. It was said at the time that "that in Serbia her opinion is valued immediately after the Metropolitan's". The students of her school, were: journalist, librarian and modern dance theorist Maga Magazinović, paintress Nadežda Petrović, actress and poet Milka Grgurova, in addition to the future Queen of Serbia, Draga Mašin. Even King Milan was joking that that  it is not a strange occurrence in Serbia to have an additional mother in law, and that "Milovukovica" is undisputed spiritual mother in law in hundreds of households. Katarina Milovuk left her entire estate to the charities, whereas the modest headstone at her final resting place was erected by the female humanitarian organization "Circle of Serbian Sisters".

Marija (Popović) Milutinović Punktatorka, a wife of the flamboyant romantic poet Sima Milutinović - Sarajlija was the first women in Serbia who practiced law, but was also committed to her role of educator. He got her nickname "Punktaorka", when she started to punctuate the verses of her future poet husband, who as a token approval gave this nickname to his young reader who would soon become his life partner. Marija Milutinović was corresponding with Vuk Karadžić, helping him collecting the folk poems, proverbs and sayings, and who significantly valued her opinion. Upon death of her husband, he started to work as a teacher, i.e. was a Headmistress of a private school in Belgrade, while in e 1849, he finally landed a position of the "Senior teacher" in a public school. In the course of practicing law, she represented poor and oppressed free of charge. She had not profited on any of the many cases she won. According to her great friend, writer Jakov Ignjatović, even though she was extremely knowledgeable in law, it was more important to her to defend the weak and fought for justice, than to earn on somebody else's misery.

"Share Your Knowledge" is a mentoring program focused on establishing mutual support among women, through sharing knowledge, strengthening solidarity, promotion of good examples, networking and capacity building. Voluntary engagement and enthusiasm of all program participants, i.e. they readiness to help, in addition to their commitment are the key success factors of this mentoring program.  "Share Your Knowledge" Program is organized for eight years in a raw, by the US Embassy in Belgrade, ERSTE Bank, OESE and European Movement in Serbia.

Description of the event at the web site of the Association of Significant Cemeteries of Europe (ASCE), may be found here: http://www.significantcemeteries.org/2018/08/tour-extraordinary-women-on-new.html