Rastko Lompar’s book on Dimitrije Ljotić has come out from the publisher


This study is the first comprehensive attempt to analyze the complex views of Dimitrije Ljotić about Christianity and religion in general, as well as his often contradictory relationship with organized religious communities during his political career in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and German-occupied Serbia. The interpretations and conclusions proposed here are based on analyzing unpublished evidence from Serbian and German archives, a wide range of published sources, primarily contemporaneous press articles and periodicals, and memoirs and diaries. Special attention was given to analyzing texts personally written by Dimitrije Ljotić or his followers. The paper analyzes the existing historiographic and journalistic production on Dimitrije Ljotić, the Yugoslav National Movement Zbor, and right-wing movements and individuals in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and German-occupied Serbia. Given the conflicting interpretations of Ljotić’s ideological affiliation – whether he was a fascist or not – the paper focuses on elucidating this matter. With that objective in mind, it tries not to use the terms fascist and fascism as a political label but to define them in accordance with the existing theories of fascism and employ them as heuristic terms that facilitate a more accurate and exhaustive analysis of the ideology of Dimitrije Ljotić and the movement he headed.

The theoretical framework of this paper is the theory of fascism developed by Roger Griffin, who identifies the mythical core of fascist ideology in the palingenetic impulse – the belief that a nation needs rebirth or re-creation. Following Griffin’s theory, an in-depth analysis of the ideology of Dimitrije Ljotić and the Zbor movement reveals that the palingenesis myth represented the core of the Zbor’s ideology, meaning that it can be said to have indeed been a fascist movement. In view of the topic of this study, Dimitrije Ljotić’s views on religion and religious communities are analyzed in the context of European ideational and political trends of his time and through the prism of theoretical considerations on fascism and religion. 

The study comprises two parts entitled Ideology and Practice. The first part analyzes Dimitrije Ljotić’s religious views and the religious aspect of his ideology. The second considers his relationship with the religious communities in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and occupied Serbia.

The starting point of this analysis of Ljotić’s religious views is his earliest intellectual exemplars, including some of the most prominent Christian thinkers. The paper elucidates the hitherto completely neglected influence of theories of ecumenism on Ljotić. The ecumenist Christian traditions, popular in the early 20th century, which he encountered early on, can explain Ljotić’s unusual religious views. His ‘integralist Christian’ view, to quote Djoko Slijepčević, pushed aside interconfessional differences in favor of universal Christian similarities, marrying them with Yugoslav nationalism and the cult of sacrifice and struggle. That refutes the widely accepted view of Ljotić as an ardent member of the Orthodox Church and Serbian nationalist and highlights his far more pragmatic view of Christianity, as well as his deep belief in integral Yugoslavism. A closer reading of the texts penned by Dimitrije Ljotić and his followers reveals that religious symbolism pervades the personal ideology of Ljotić and that of his movement. The re-birth motif or, in other words, the palingenetic aspect of Ljotić’s thought and his acceptance of violence as a regenerative force are given special attention, with an analysis of his ideal system of government and critique of political opponents and the movements with which he had contacts.

The second part of the study explores the relationship between Dimitrije Ljotić and religious communities in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and occupied Serbia, focusing on the ties of Ljotić and the Zbor movement with the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, the two most influential Christian communities in Yugoslavia. It shows how Ljotić balanced between those two long-conflicted confessions. Special attention is given to Ljotić’s behavior during the Concordat Crisis. The study thoroughly analyzes the relationship between Dimitrije Ljotić and Bishop Nikolaj Velimirović, which has often been the subject of stereotypical and superficial interpretations. It also explores the widely reported claim about the entry of the God-Devotionals Movement into Zbor, finding no evidence to verify it.

The paper notes that the events of 27 March 1941 permanently damaged Dimitrije Ljotić’s good relations with the clergy of the Serbian Orthodox Church. His numerous attempts to make the Serbian Orthodox Church accept cooperation with the occupiers failed to bear fruit. The analysis of German sources has shown that Ljotić was seen as highly knowledgeable about ecclesiastical matters in occupied Serbia and Yugoslavia and often consulted in decision-making processes. The paper also describes the activities of the clerics that supported his movement and the attitude of Ljotić and his followers to the priests branded as their opponents.

Finally, the paper explores the question of whether the Zbor ideology can be seen as a political religion and whether Zbor can be considered a clerical fascist movement. It concludes that the evolution of the Zbor ideology into a political religion, while noticeable, was never completed and that the participation of the clergy and church hierarchy in Zbor was not widespread enough to consider it a clerical fascist movement.

Link: dimitrije-ljotic-ucitelj-ili-farisej-rastko-lompar