The generation of Saško Gešovski did not have the luxury of quietly watching sports games, thinking about where to spend their vacation, what faculty to study at, what disco to spend the evening in. In freedom, even the memory of this generation is a “luxury” for us.
May 6th, today. Some celebrate Gjurgjovden (St. George’s Day), others walk along the Kay in Skopje, government officials and politicians beat their heads as usual with empty phrases. Lightning and heavy rain do not interrupt this weekly nirvana. Nineteen year old boys discuss the outcome of a soccer game aloud with predictions. They know all the players, they know all the details about all the world stars …
I don’t know if they would give such detailed answers if I asked them if they knew who Saško Gešovski is.
I hesitate to ask them for fear that they will give me an answer that will destroy the culture of our memory, that we do not cherish enough, or that we are not worth. I am comforted that it is at least good for them to be idolaters, not propagandists of violence and war. And what is their “main problem” that day is the result of a soccer game.
After all, it is not their fault if they believe that peace, freedom, and tranquility are something that naturally follows, something that falls from the sky, just like the rain. Adults, our parents, the educational system and the educational process are to blame for not giving them the awareness that nothing in life is achieved on a plate like the one on which coffee is served. From national success to soccer results – everything takes effort, work, investment, commitment, training …
They are as old as Saško Gešovski in May 1991. In this turbulent year, his generation did not have the luxury of quietly watching football games, thinking about where they would spend their vacation, which faculty they would study at, which disco they would spend the evening in will spend.
On May 6, 1991 at 11 a.m., a 19-year-old Macedonian from Kavadarci who was doing his military service in the Yugoslav People’s Army was killed in Split.
To this day it is unclear who fired the shot at the Macedonian, who at the time was working as a security guard in the naval command post in the Croatian coastal city. And why he was left on the front lines at a time when 30,000 people protested outside the command post and their anger grew into disorder and violence. The footage from that day shows the beginning of the horror in the areas of the former Yugoslavia.
Saško Gešovski was the first victim from Macedonia in the war in Yugoslavia, and at the same time the first victim of the People’s Army. On the same day Toni Stojčev from Makedonska Kamenica was wounded trying to help Gešovski. On the same day, the video footage shows how several people tried to strangle the soldier Svetlančo Nakov from the village of Laki, near Vinica in eastern Macedonia, in the transporter. He also rescues the driver of the van, also a Macedonian named Slave Jovanov, from the village of Vasilevo in the Strumica region. Forty Macedonian soldiers who were in the ranks of the former Yugoslav People’s Army were killed in the conflicts that began in Yugoslavia.
If it weren’t for the horrors of war, they would be parents today, perhaps young grandfathers of their first grandchildren, and would have taught their heirs how important peace is and how terrible war is.
You didn’t get this chance. And what about us, the generation of Gešovski, who we saw on television the terrible recordings that we grew up in these turbulent times, that we were worried until the last moment whether the withdrawal of the Yugoslav Army JNA from Macedonia would peaceful take place, because of this maybe some have matured faster, but also aged faster?
I don’t think we did anything significant to remember this lesson more than once a year. Of course, that’s not a good sign for us. It is not good for the regional media to remember this terrible day more than it is for the Macedonian media.
Some years ago the Croatian journalist Boris Dezulovic published a book of essays in search of lost time, which “garnered” fifteen years as his personal view of the region’s political and emotional history. It deals with the question of who killed Gešovski and how this event is interpreted in Croatia.
“That was many years ago and a lot has happened in the meantime. We have long since forgotten the little Macedonian and his crying father in front of the television cameras because history does not remember the first and last names of those who are not so immortal that they survive the revolt and live forever in our hearts and in the names of the various institutions. And on the other hand, the crossfire of the insurgent rifle. Or the revolver (…) And if this is a civilized and cultural country, as it is not and it seems, a film would have been made for the tragic death of Saško Gešovski long ago (…) And not because of Saško, because it will no longer mean anything to him, but because of us, who we are in freedom live with the one-toothed hero who shot a boy.“
Just as. Because of us who live in freedom.
Saško Gešovski was born in 1972. He graduated from elementary and secondary school in Kavadarci and then served in the military of the Yugoslav People’s Army in Croatia. On May 6, 1991, a masked member of the MUP of the Republic of Croatia shot him and killed the young man from Kavadarci with four bullets. At the critical moment, Saško was on duty in front of the building of the Military Naval District in Split.
On May 7, 1991, a large protest rally took place in Kavadarci in his honor, attended by almost the entire population of the city and the surrounding areas to express unrest and sadness over the death of the fellow citizen.
More than 20,000 citizens from all over Yugoslavia attended his funeral, and a three-day mourning period was declared in Kavadarci. Three other residents of Kavadarci died in 1991 during the war in Yugoslavia.
Used and quoted sources:
- DW Macedonian, “Сашко Гешовски – заборавената страница од историјата”, published May 7, 2018, written by Katerina Blazhevska
- Wikipedia Macedonian