A View of the Disaster and Victory from below: Serbian Roma Soldiers, 1912–1918

Elena Andreevna Marushiakova-Popova (Editor), Danilo Šarenac*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The Kingdom of Serbia fought in three consecutive conflicts between 1912 and 1918. These events merged into a devastating
experience of an all-out war, completely reshaping all aspects of contemporary life. As the first centenary of these
events has recently shown, the memories of wartime still play a very prominent role in the Serbian national narrative.
By 1915 around 20% of Serbian combatants belonged to some of the country’s minorities. Second class citizens on the
social margins of society, the Serbian Roma constitute those whose wartime history is the least known to research and the
public. However, the wartime diaries kept by Serbian soldiers are full of causal references to their Roma fellow combatants.
This article provides an overview of the duties Roma soldiers played in the war, based on the perspective of Serbs who were
fighting alongside them. The article tackles the general image and the position of the Roma population in the Kingdom of
Serbia. In addition, the horrific challenges the war created for Serbian society are tackled from the perspective of those
who were, already in peace time, in the most disadvantageous situation socially and economically. Overall, despite the
unifying experience which the wartime suffering imposed on all citizens of the Kingdom, the old prejudices towards the
Roma survived after 1918.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Pages (from-to)277–285
JournalSocial Inclusion
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 2020


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