Industrials, merchants and craftsmen represented the backbone of this successful period and, during the golden ear between the two wars, were counted amongst the better known, more prominent citizens of Leskovac. On account of their eﬀorts, particularly in the period between 1918 and 1941, Leskovac in the late 19th and early 20th century had became the second city after Belgrade in terms of financial and industrial strength and had overtaken the capital in becoming the city with the highest rate of development in the country.
In fact, some of its industrial branches were the most developed not only in Serbia, but within the entire Balkan region. This is especially true of the textile industry seeing as it was the number of textile mills and factories present in Leskovac which earned it the nickname the, ‘Serbian Manchester.’
At that time, a proverb came into being which today is still quite well-known and widely used in Leskovac: “They eat peppers, then they build factories” (this pronoun rhymes in southerners’ speech). This in no way implies that Leskovac did not have distinguished and prominent citizens in other areas of social endeavor: lawyers, doctors, bankers, writers, artists, actors, caterers, teachers, athletes, etc., all contributing to the richly coloured tapestry that was the city's social life.
Only a few of these residents are mentioned in this book; some were locals born in Leskovac, others had moved to the city for work, and the rest had lived and worked in Leskovac for years. All of them however, and many others who are not mentioned herein, marked the golden era of their city and became the golden people of its time.
Antonije ‘Tonka’ Popovic - The central character and the man who lay the foundation for Leskovac’s textile industry, the man from whom all of the future industrialists of Leskovac learned.
Dimitrije Mita Teokarevic - is one of the founders of Leskovac’s textile industry.
The Family of Ilic – Mumdzije - One of the most important families in Leskovac during the inter-war period, in as far as both the textile industry and society were concerned. Sotir Ilic – Mumdzija is remembered for being the first to build a mansion in Leskovac, in 1911. Vlada Ilic - was also the Mayor of Belgrade from January 1935 until September of 1939.
Gligorije Gorca Petrovic - was the first who came upon the idea of beginning the production of chords in Leskovac and Serbia itself.
Jovan Vlajcic - One of the many branches of industry developed in Leskovac between the two World Wars was the chemical industry, more precisely the production of soap and later on cosmetics and perfumes. The founder of this industry in Leskovac was Jovan Vlajcic.
Trajko Djordjevic – Kukar - was a classic example of a hard-working and energetic man, who had demonstrated a desire for success from his earliest youth.
Zivko Stojiljkovic - One of the most prominent industrialists and benefactors of Leskovac at the start of the 20th century was Zivko Stojiljkovic who was mainly involved in the mill industry.
Zivko D. Obrenovic – a bookseller, printer and the founder of the gymnastic organization of Leskovac.
Todor ‘Tosa’ Tonic - a lawyer, was the greatest political figure of pre-war Leskovac.
Mihajlo Babamilkic - was a radical and president of the municipality of Leskovac.
Jovan Diskic - He was educated in the craft of tailoring national costumes. He had a private business. He was elected as mayor on the list of the Yugoslav Communist Party.
Milan Popdimic - an industrialist, a democrat and the deputy Mayor of the district from 1923 until 1929.
Sreten Dinic - was engaged in literature. He authored over 50 books and was an associate and editor of numerous important newspapers, magazines and anthologies being published at the time (“Srpske Novine,” “Leskovački Glasnik,” “Narodni Prosvetitelj,” etc.). He was a true educator.
Doktor Zak Konfino – was one of the most renown and prominent citizens of Leskovac of his time.
Slavuji - One of the most important families in Leskovac during this period, was the Stankovic family also known as the Slavuji family. The two most prominent members of that family were the father and son, Dusan and Dragutin Stankovic respectively.
Dimitrije, Milan and Miodrag Gligorijević – Bure - The well-known Gligorijevic family from Leskovac, who played a central role in the propagation of the glory of Leskovac’s grill, occupy an important place in the city’s history.
Excerpt from the monograph
“The Golden Era Of Leskovac 1918-1941”