Dimitrije Djordjevic was a beloved husband, father, step-father, grandfather, great-grandfather and friend. Born February 17th, 1922, died March 5th, 2009 after a valiant struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. The definitive gentleman and scholar, he was a man of true grace, charm and wit, we “shall not look upon his like again.”
Born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia) Dimitrije grew up in a “cozy, protected childhood and adolescence in pre-World War II days.” As the scion of a distinguished 4th generation Belgradian family his future was very bright but then came the War and the juggernaut of the Nazi invasion of Eastern Europe. Dimitrije, known as “Mita” to all who knew and loved him, quickly joined the underground resistance group with his younger brother Mihailo. Together with many others they became devoted followers of General Dragoljub “Draza” Mihailovic and first fought against the forces of fascism and later communism. Civil War swept through the country after the defeat of the Nazis. Mita survived imprisonment by the Nazis in the notorious Mauthausen prison in Austria only to be captured and imprisoned again in more than one concentration camp in Yugoslavia. Eventually pardoned in 1947 Mita returned to his family in Belgrade and began his scholarly career.
Due to his resistance to the regime of Marshal Josip Broz Tito, Mita had great difficulty finding a job and gaining entry to the University of Belgrade. After a long struggle he succeeded and obtained his PhD in History in 1962. His academic career began with his trips to Greece, Germany and eventually the United States on lecture tours. Ultimately he was offered positions at several prestigious universities and elected to join the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1970. At the History Department he organized the Graduate Program of Balkan Studies and taught modern Yugoslav, Blakan and European history. He was tremendously proud of his 19 PhD candidates as well as 9 MA’s. He called them all his “Balkan Family”. At his retirement in 1991 his grateful students assembled a “Festschrift” (a collection of essays) in his honor titled, “Scholar, Patriot, Mentor”.
Dimitrije was the author of 22 books in four languages and countless articles. He always said he suffered from “graphomania”. His most touching and emotional work was his autobiography “Scars and Memory, Four Lives in One Lifetime” published in 1997 which describes his carefree youth in Belgrade, the descent of the black mantle of Fascism and the advent of communism that swept away all he knew and cared about in his beloved country. After his retirement emeritus from UCSB as “a leading international scholar of Balkan History” per Chancellor Henry T. Yang, he and his wife Nan continued with their extensive travels and enjoyed time with their combined families of children, grandchildren and one great-grandchild. In later years there were many long walks on the beaches of his beloved Santa Barbara with their adored dog, “Buba”.
Mita’s dear brother Mihailo “Misha” Dordevic preceded him in death in 1991. He is survived by his loving wife, Nan, his daughter Jelena Markovic (Rade), his grandson Vladimir Markovic (Natasha), his granddaughter Danielja Markovic and great-granddaughter Tara Markovic all of Belgrade, Serbia as well as his step-children F. Taylor Sarguis (Claudine), Tod F. Sarguis, and Nina S. Walker (Matthew) all of California. Services are pending in Belgrade, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. Friends may donate in his honor to the charity of their choice if desired.