Inđija through the centuries
Life in the Pannonian Plain has lasted for millennia. There are numerous remains of cultures that lived in this area in the Bronze and Iron Ages. It was inhabited by the tribes Autariatae, Moesi and Triballi, and soon came the bellicose Celts after the defeat at Delphi in Greece in 279 BC. Gauls who lived in these parts are called the Scordisci and their supremacy lasted until the arrival of the Romans in Pannonia. The most important remnant of the Scordisci in the municipality of Inđija is Acumincum – a site near Stari Slankamen, where the Romans later built their fortress.
With the arrival of the Romans on the Danube in Srem, which was the border of the Empire, a limes was established. It was a system of fortifications that defended the territory of the Empire from barbarian invasions, and so this area entered the system that stretched from Hadrian’s Wall in Britain across the Rhine and the Danube to the eastern frontier of the Empire in the Middle East. The importance of Srem grew significantly when Sirmium became one of the four imperial capitals. In the territory of the municipality of Inđija, next to Stari Slankamen, there is a significant site in Čortanovci known as Castra Herculis or Ad Herculem, where the remains of a fortress and a Roman country villa were found, as well as several tombs, and the latest discovery from 2018 found that the settlement had a water supply system (aqueduct).
During the Great Migration, many tribes passed the area and left devastation behind. Hungarians came eventually and settled here in the 10th century, and from then until 1918 they were the masters of the entire plain.
A statue of the god Atlas was found in the area of the city of Inđija, but more detailed research has not been done, so nothing can be said about the existence of a settlement from an earlier period. The first mention of Inđija is from 1455 as the property of the Hungarian noble family Sulyok de Lekcse. The village survived even after the Turkish conquest of Srem (1521-1526), which was proven by the Turkish defter for Srem from 1596, when it was mentioned that Inđija consisted of 23 houses and a Widow’s Home. Arguably, the most important settlement in that period was the fortress in Slankamen. A medieval fort was built on the remains of the Roman fortress and port, which protected the flow of the Danube in this part. Its significance is especially evident at the turn of the 16th century, when it was a part of the system of fortifications that protected the southern border of the Kingdom of Hungary. It is assumed that Stari Slankamen was the property of the despot Vuk Grgurević Branković, popularly known as Zmaj Ognjeni Vuk. In 1468, he built the church of St. Nicholas, which still bears witness to those turbulent times. Furthermore, Slankamen was a port and one of the locations of Nassadists (Tchaikists), who sailed on light boats on the Danube and the Sava and prevented the Ottomans from crossing the river. One of the most significant events that took place was the battle of Slankamen in 1691, when the Ottoman army under the command of Grand Vizier Mustafa Pasha Köprülü fought with the Habsburg army led by Margrave Ludwig von Baden. The Grand Vizier fell here with eighteen other pashas and a large part of the army, and, Serbian warriors, under the command of field marshal-lieutenant Jovan Monasterlija, stood out in the battle on the side of the Habsburgs.
There is no information about the settlement of Inđija until the beginning of the 18th century. It is known that after the Treaty of Karlowitz in 1699, it remained under Turkish rule until 1718, when the Habsburg Monarchy liberated not only the territories up to the Sava and the Danube, but also the northern parts of central Serbia. However, peace did not equal progress for Inđija. For unknown reasons, the village was displaced before the end of the war. Since then, it existed only as a grassland that was under the administration of the Chamber of Commerce in Petrovaradin. In 1728, Inđija passed into the hands of the Counts Pejačević. Since it was suitable for grazing cattle, Inđija grassland was leased first to the municipality of Beška, and later to the rich merchants from Beška. Thus, for the following thirty years, Inđija served as a pasture for the cattle owned by the inhabitants of Beška.
With the territorial reorganization of the monarchy and the establishment of the Military Frontier, the Count Pejačević was left without a large part of his estate (spahiluk), so he was interested in settling the grasslands in his possession. For this reason, Inđija was repopulated in 1746. The settlers came from Beška and the village of Patke. Until the 1820s, the inhabitants were Serbs. Already in 1754, they built a church dedicated to the Presentation of the Most Holy Mother of God, which was consecrated in 1766 by Metropolitan Pavle Nenadović. The priests were from the Anđelić family for more than a century. In the beginning, the people of Inđija were more engaged in cattle breeding, and less in agriculture. The livestock in Inđija decreased over time, which indicates that agriculture has taken precedence over cattle breeding.
Since 1825, due to the departure of Serbs from Inđija, the authorities began to settle Germans. This changed the ethnic structure of the village population. The government now relied on Germans, which provoked conflicts with a national character. By the middle of the century, Germans had become the majority. In 1848, there were over 1,500 of them, while there were only about 700 Serbs, as Radoslav Marković claims in his work on Inđija. This accelerated the emigration of Serbs from Inđija.
In addition, already in 1825, Inđija was elevated to the rank of a town because it acquired the right to hold fairs. The fair was held every year on 2nd July. Moreover, due to the settlement of Germans, the number of craftsmen increased, so that in 1845 the state gave a guild privilege to the craftsmen of Inđija.
The events of the revolutionary year of 1848 affected Inđija as well. Serbs from Inđija sent their representative to the May Assembly. The people of Inđija managed to save the property of their German neighbours from the bellicose border guards, but soon relations deteriorated because Germans supported the government and did not want to side with Serbs. In Inđija, the conflict was settled with the expulsion of the notary Balrog, who remained with the help of Germans, while Serbs wanted to oust him, accusing him of oppression. The conflict over the notary lasted until the end of the revolution in Hungary, when the governmental party won.
From then until the end of the century, Serbs had been constantly moving out of the town, until the arrival of the priest Radoslav Marković, who managed to prevent that and who strengthened Serbs economically. In 1897, he prevented further emigration of Serbs by organising the first agricultural cooperative in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. They began to prosper economically and slowly caught up with their German neighbours. With the efforts of the parish priest, on 27th September 1905, the Sokol Society was founded in Inđija. Archpriest Marković became its first president, and the youth practiced in the churchyard. It is important to point out that Inđija also became a railway hub. Namely, in 1883, the railway station was opened and the train ran on the route Budapest-Novi Sad-Zemun and Zagreb-Šid-Sremska Mitrovica-Inđija. This conditioned the further economic development of the town. Numerous hotels were opened next to the station, and Inđija became one of the most important centres for the repair of wagons in this part of the royal lands.
A map of this area in the 19th century can be seen at the following link www.mapire.eu
New challenges came after a single shot in Sarajevo, when the heir to the throne Franz Ferdinand was killed. The long-awaited war in Europe began on 28th July 1914, when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. Prominent Serbs from Inđija were imprisoned in Ruma because the authorities were afraid that they would launch an armed action, and when the Serbian army came close to Inđija in September 1914, certain individuals were imprisoned again, together with the archpriest Radoslav Marković, to be released in 1916. When the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy began in October 1918, and the People’s Council was founded in Zagreb, the archpriest, together with other detainees, founded the People’s Council in Inđija on 25th October 1918. Upon returning home, Germans from Inđija, who had taken refuge in Bačka, found their houses as they had left them. The President of the People’s Council in Inđija, Radoslav Marković, did not allow lawlessness to prevail, so he ordered daily reading of the proclamations and “orders” on behalf of the seventh regiment commander. Inđija was liberated on 8th November 1918, on Mitrovdan. Germans never forgot this kindness of the archpriest. He was also a participant in the assembly in Ruma on 24th November 1918, when Serbian people from Srem clearly stated that they wanted to unite with the Kingdom of Serbia. Consequently, as early as 1st December 1918, Inđija was in the new state of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.
The period between the wars, in addition to freedom, brought some problems as well. One of the most important issues was the agrarian reform, and the parish priest of Inđija participated in the discussion on the issue, believing that the agricultural cooperatives would do the job in the fairest way. In addition, Germans continued being the majority in Inđija and opened numerous workshops. One of them was Krznara, which intensified its production in 1924.
The constant economic growth was interrupted by the Second World War. As early as 10th April 1941, the army of the Third Reich entered the town and established its authority. As Srem belonged to the Independent State of Croatia, Inđija was formally under this pro-Nazi creation. However, the actual situation on site was different. As Germans made up the majority of the population, they had their own self-government and officials of the Independent State of Croatia were not allowed to come to the town. Thus, the local Swabians saved many Serbs who remained in Inđija, but also those who came from the surrounding area, so there were no major crimes in the town. During the operations of the Red Army for the liberation of the Balkans and Central Europe from the Nazis, partisans and Soviet soldiers liberated the city on 22nd October 1944. Consequently, the local German population fled together with the Nazis.
The new communist government, which was established after the liberation, gave German houses to the colonists and all companies were nationalised. In the 1960s, the economic growth of Inđija started again, where, in addition to the already existing fur factory (Krznara) and furniture factory, numerous other companies were established, such as Bruno, Grafičar, Gumaplast, production of baby food, etc. Economic growth lasted until the 1980s, and in the 1990s most of the large companies of Inđija collapsed and eventually went bankrupt and were privatised.
As it is located halfway between Belgrade and Novi Sad and is intersected by important road and railway routes, the economic growth and development of the city is guaranteed in the 21st century as well. Glorious days, similar to those in the past, lie ahead.
The origin of the name of Inđija
There are three versions about the origin of the name of this town in eastern Srem.
The first is that the name originates from the Latin word indigena, which means indigenous, native. We can assume that some learned people in the Middle Ages, probably monks from Catholic monasteries in the vicinity of Inđija, found a population unknown to them until then and called them indigenous, and that the name has remained the same to this day.
Another theory is that the name originated during the Ottoman rule in the area. As the road from Belgrade to Petrovaradin passed through Inđija, the Ottomans would arrive in Inđija during the afternoon prayer, where they performed the ikindia prayer and it is assumed that the name of the city came from this word for prayer. However, as there is proof that the name was first mentioned in 1455, and the Ottoman conquest was in the period from 1521 to 1526, this theory is less probable.
The third theory certainly sounds the best. It is believed that Inđija used to be a female name and that the settlement was named after a beautiful girl who lived in it. The truth of this cannot be determined with certainty, but there is evidence that Inđija really existed as a female name in the past.
Author: Vukašin Vukmirović, historian