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Nataša Milićević, PhD
Institute for Recent History of Serbia
Belgrade, Republic of Serbia

 

CIVIL SERVANTS IN OCCUPIED SERBIA 1941-1944

Vol. XXXVI, 2/2018, pp. 69–86
https://doi.org/10.29362/ist20veka.2018.2.mil.69-86

 

ABSTRACT/RESUME:

Civil servants in Serbia under Nazi occupation experienced deep and great transformation as the rest of the society. The complete prewar social structure, that included civil servants, was disturbed. Furthermore, internal structure of civil servants as social group was disturbed, too. Although their status was based on prewar legislation, numerous decrees, orders and bans altered their prewar social position, status and social power. New world of their work and life under occupation became a world dominated by pressures, both by domestic and occupier’s authorities, constant fear for survival in service, permanent testing of reliability and loyalty. In addition, it was a world of small incomes, insufficient for existence. Domestic authorities enforced two kinds of mutually confronted measures. First measure implied a removal of all redundant and „nationally unreliable“ civil servants and reducing of their numbers according real needs. The other measures tend to mitigate, neglect and bypass the first measure. Many servants were expelled from the world of labor, either by laying off (around 10,000) or by retirement. At their workplaces were hired many others, especially refugees. New civil servants were expected to pave „new way for Serbia“ within the Nazi Europe. The measures mentioned above activated intensive social mobility in all directions. However, neither domestic nor German authorities succeeded to create proclaimed effective and non-expensive administrative apparatus. Also, they could not break with the prewar system. They could not change the image of civil servants as non-effective, corrupted and unreliable individuals who had been responsible for the catastrophe of state and society. Instead, it seemed that slowness, lack of enthusiasm, corruption and misuses became more widespread. It was estimated that more than 80% of clerks in different institutions in charge for the control of consumption products, were corrupted. At the end of 1942, regular incomes and expenses show absolute decline of the living standard. Average regular incomes of civil servants covered only 10% of real needs of a family. Civil servants had somewhat worse position than ordinary workers (an average civil servant salary was twice smaller than workers wage), because workers had more important role in the war economy. Private clerks had better salaries than civil servants, as before the war. However, number of private clerks dramatically declined due to the closing and bankruptcy of many private enterprises. Civil servants experienced a great economic differentiation during the war. This process was additionally supported by domestic and German authorities. Motive for that support was a need to bond reliable and loyal servant to domestic authorities. The other were even forced to use own children for begging. All civil servants lost authority, as the state itself. Therefore, civil servants sensed lack of respect, and even a moral condemnation as people in service of occupiers.

 

KEYWORDS: Serbia, The Second World War, Nazi occupation, society, Civil servants, Serbian collaboration authorities, working conditions, social stratification

 

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