We found another fantastic group of pensioners - active (they just came to the workshop from self-organised recreation), organised (they brought the images to show us as they have carefully read our publicity) and happy to engage with our progamme. They know and value their area which is full of difficult histories in which their ancestors lost properties just because they were well off. Not only Germans took their wealth, but then the Communist party on power proclaimed them traitors - being rich was more than just a bad taste after the war, it was a reason for humiliation.
Still, these people hold no grudges and that is quite remarkable in the Serbia today which is terribly poor. The state might consider some legal or financial compensation, but what does one do when the government sold a private house to the embassy? That land is now foreign... Private become public and then estranged, like everything here and hence, the reason for our project is working with our own resources to develop a local, workable, long term method of living together.
And we found a culprit from Zemun's crime story about watermellons! That guy who used to pull out the watermellons from the boats arriving from Srem was on our workshop. He is an inhabitant of Sava Mala, a poor part of Savski Venac borough by the river. Oh, the film making in that area - we are yet to discover it on a tour with him, a neighbourhood hero who is making the surrounding pretty on his own back, by signage, cleaning, communication with the government. Again, we found individuals who try to keep us together in the beautiful way, we just need to observe and reward them from time to time.
About Topcider Hill, Senjak and Savamala
-Now they erased that there is Topcider Hill, now we became just Senjak, and Uzicka and Tolstojeva Street the most probably belong to Senjak. No, Uzicka and Tolstojeva belong to Topcider Hill and Topcider Hill settlement goes to the Museum of King Peter.
-I would like to continue there because we kind of know the same matter, I personally know Senjak. Senjak was once till Senjacka Street. There is a sort of border. My mother and father are from here, although dad is from Mostar area. Once, there was Mostar locality, Senjak and Topcider Hill. So, Mostar was kind of to BIGZ, till Senjacka was Senjak and all upwards was Topcider Hill. And always existed some kind of so called border, that was known. And the people who lived there, natives know that. Like you said, that already started to be erased because once someone thought to connect Topcider Hill and Senjak which is illusiory, impossible. Yes, to erase the existance of Topcider Hill.
- And then someone says: „I live in Senjak“. I never lived in Senjak, I was born on Topcider Hill.
-I have a question, what is the name generally Senjak because it is at the end of one part?
-Senjak is called Senjak.
-Ah, no, I know all of that – Senjak, but that is Savamala..
-No, Savamala is totally different, The Bara Venecija is different. Savamala was coming to „Monopol“.
-Savamala started with Sarajevska Street, there was Bara Venecija which was dried out when Prokop got digged out.
-Well, I should know, I investigate that, I was born there – Savamala rests from Nebojsa's Tower to Senjak, that is the border.
-To Senjak. And where is the Senjak border?
-Savamala is to Senjak, I do not know where exactly.
-To Sarajevska Street, to „Monopol“.
-Well, Sarajevska is not Senjak.
-And do you know where was Senjak?
About Topcider, Senjak and Savamala
HOW COME EMBASSIES COME RIGHT TO THIS AREA?
-I do not know how because at the time I was not born yet when, in what way they have done it, retailored the ownership over that house. And as far as I know, Mosa Pijade (a communist politician) took that house for himself and they made documents, so when he died, his wife sold it to the Argentina state. In Andre Nikolica Street, that is the white building you can see with the swimming pool next to the museum of African art. The whole land of the Museum and the house, that is all one land and all the way to four streets.
- I have deeds for that part.
- And how is it called?
- I do not know, I have to look it up.
- All that bit, from Egyptian embassy that encompasses also Museum of African Art, that was the ownership of Aleksa Nenadovic, the first owner of that part.
- After that it was Blagojevic’s family and I do not know what happened with it after, then we can not do anything. It was never the case, there are no papers they have taken from you.
-I know the story about our house that the Germans after the WW2 wanted houses that have the pool. In order for them to enter our house, our family buried the pool. That is maybe some kind of measurement because the houses in Senjak were of a more quality than the ones in the other part of the city.
- I am sick to see the pool, blue, wonderful pool and the white house.
- As well, we can not do anything, because Mosa’s wife sold the house to the state of Argentina. In newspapers they recently published that all the villas that were, in which there are foreign embassies, residencies or something – they do not fall under the restitution.
- I am in Prince Marko Street, I am born there and so on. I can say that no one knows that in Belgrade there is the oldest vine branch that is 60 years old and in the middle of Savamala. And it is in Belgrade Cooperative, in the yard where the director lived. I can always take you so you can see it for real – 60 years old vine. In Travnicka Street.
- You cleaned Savamala and put the signpost on your own cost.
- The only mark of Savamala, there by the Branko bridge, there it is. I paid for it myself. Secondly, I brought the water in. I have been explaining to the Savski Venac Council for three years: „The water point should be available somewhere on the way from Kalemegdan to Senjak". So the people can drink and refresh.
- And they put it there. Twenty benches, they were stolen too when they made the cycling path. I am the only one in the council who was against the police station to be there, it should be further away to the old bridge. There the cars can come and go. That brittle marble, it is only predicted for the pedestrian walk, they broke everything.
Signpost for Savamala
-I can tell you in short how Belgrade got supplied with meat. I live in the building in Savamala, I was born there. In that time it was weigh station, they drove in cattle by wagons, live cattle, because at the time there wasn’t transport means, in the 50s. And then they arrive by train, little station, they unload the herd of over a thousand throats. And they wip, here and there, they push all towards the station, respectively slaughterhouse by the Pancevacki Bridge. And then, on the way, the wise people opened their gates and pushed in some of the cattle and closed them. Resourcefulness was important. That is very interesting, no one knows that, I was the participant, I watched all of that. I was little, but I first opened the door and it came itself. And in the morning, I had friends that had their own car and they sold it for I do not know for how much and then the whole week we went to cinema with that money. It all went to slaughterhouse, one there, the other here, it can not, it was without reins, and the dogs that were barking directed them. That was very interesting, I am telling it like that...
-My father worked in the State Ministry of Internal Affairs and after the liberation, we moved to this so called UDBA's building in the Boulevard of Duke Misic. It was built by the German prisoners, by the Russian system. That is a really old construction, massive walls, the thickness, not to say, they were really of a quality. It was the first from the biggest buildings in Belgrade.
-In my good memory, there was the time with a lot of children. I lived in the second entrance and in the third I think they were the most numbered, in one entrance there was 125 children, we were playing so nicely, we were modest.
- Belgrade was not what it once was. Now migrated from God knows where. There are no more old people, there is no more that friendship. I have one grandmother, 86 years old who is also a neighbour, this is who I have upstairs. I go to her today and we talk and there is no people, all died or are sick or weak. And arrived all, God forbid, they throw garbage, do not want to clean, it is disorderly.
- The night life of all of Belgrade is transferred to Savamala and we can not sleep at all.
- We complain, so they clean, we cleaned ourselves, everyone cleans from their own flat, and now housing cleans. We paid, so they clean. Before, we were managing it ourselves, we gather together and we clean, a few of us. It was a better time, people appreciated each other, respected each other and now no one respects anyone. Some master, you say good day, nicely, cultured, now the children do not greet anyone, all are on the computer, there aren’t children.
- There are not so many children. How much was in one building, in one part of the building. What it means today on Senjak to have only one class, and in my time eleven classes, we were born 1947, my generation is in question. I think it was 11 classes. Alienation is the matter of habit. We are used to our children having a different view, and the children of our children again something completely different.