This is an excerpt from a November 2008 letter.
The Pannonian Plain is Fargo flat. It’s the bed of an ancient “sea” where rich soil settled into a flat bottom. The part of the plain in Serbia is the Autonomous province of Vojvodina with its capital in Novi Sad. The region was largely marshy swamp through which armies moved back and forth until the ground settled. When the ground settled people settled too. Serbian refugees, many from Kosovo, came north fleeing the Ottomans. Hungarians moved south, Croats East and Romanians west, all into the Vojvodina. Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa settled ethnic Germans and Slovaks in the region. It became Central Europe’s ethnic checkerboard, not a melting pot. The Austrian-Hungarian Empire established itself and ruled until it collapsed after the First World War and the region became part of Yugoslavia. At that time Hungarians were the plurality but times change. During World War Two the Jews were largely deported. After World War Two the Germans left. After the recent Balkan wars many Serb refugees from Bosnia and Croatia added significantly to the Serb population. But the region still maintains its multi-ethnic character.
Here are pictures here from Sremski Karlovci, an old Habsburg town on the Danube just downriver from Novi Sad, the provincial capital. Catholic and Orthodox churched share the main square. There are also pictures from Srbobran, “Defense of Serbia”, a farm town that is Serbian and Hungarian, from the countryside between Beska and Novi Sad, and from outside Palic.