The Birth of Yugoslavia

The Birth of Yugoslavia


Yugoslavia was founded after World War I (Clissold & Darby, 2011). Montenegro and Serbia including the republic of Macedonia were the only independent states in 1914 (Clissold & Darby, 2011). Other states such as Slovenia, Croatia, Herzegovina and Bosnia belonged to a monarchy known as Austro-Hungarian. Slavs settled between the 6th and 7th Centuries in the Balkans where they were Christianized in the 9th century (Glenny, 2012). In 8th century, Frankish ruled Slovenia until 1918. It then spread its rule to other states that included Bavarian in the 9th century as well as Austrian in the 14th century. The kingdom of Croatia came into existence between 10th and 11th centuries after which it was conquered by Hungary. It was subsequently subjected under Hungarian rule towards the end of World War I (Banac, 2010). Bosnia had been an independent state from 12th to 15th centuries after subjection to Turkish rule.

A movement was formed by Serbia including other states, which sought to unify the South Slavs. The movement contributed significantly to the development of World War I after the assassination of a Serbian nationalist in 1914 (Felder, Schneider & Woolf, 2011). The Serbian nationalist known as Francis Ferdinand was assassinated in Bosnia. His assassination led to precipitation of World War I after Austria confirmed rage and war on Serbia. Central powers overrun Montenegro and Serbia. However, there was an evacuation of Serbian troops to Greece as well as Allied-held Corfu (Felder et al., 2011). This is where there was a proclamation of the union under the rule of Peter 1. He was a Serbian king by the South Slavic representatives in July 1917. December the following year the kingdoms of Croats, Serbs and Slovenes was proclaimed formally (LLC Books, 2010).


The World War II and Tito’s Reign

In 1918, there was the recognition of new state that included enlargement due to annexation of Hungary, Austria, Croatia, Bosnia and Slovenia by the Paris Peace Conference (Glandit & Taylor, 2010). After Peter 1’s death in 1921, King Alexander ascended to power. Yugoslavia entered into alliances with Romania and Czechoslovakia since it needed protection from Bulgarian and Hungarian treaty revisions demands (Cox, 2002). The alliances created by the three states formed the Little Entete that closely cooperated with France (Clissold & Darby, 2011). However, there were strained relations with Italy, which was their neighbor due to the Fiume question. Their relations were restored in 1924 after Italy was given Fiume but still the Italian nationalists kept appropriating the whole or part of Dalmatia (Mier, 2005). However, there were tensions between Italians and Yugoslav nationalists. Yugoslav claimed parts of Venezia Giulia on ethnic backgrounds (Singleton, 2013).

It is important to note that myriad states and alliances experienced acute internal problems. A centralized constitution was obtained and enacted by Serbian Pasic in 1921. The undertaking came after the region became a premier in the late 1920’s. Moreover, some states such as Croatia started demanding for autonomy (Singleton, 2013). Nevertheless, in 1928 while in parliament, Radic was killed. After setting up a separate parliament in 1928, dictatorship was proclaimed in Croatia by King Alexander. Consequently, he made changes to the name of the kingdom. It was christened Yugoslavia after dissolving the parliament (Grandits & Taylor, 2010). The royal dictatorship lasted until 1931 with creation of a new parliamentary constitution that demanded the state to conduct electoral procedure during the processes of acquiring a new government (Judah, 2008). On the other hand, Macedonia and Croatia continued having troubles until 1934 after the assassination of Alexander at Marseilles. It is important to note that both Italy and Hungary had continued to exploit the problem of Croatia, which led to creation of Serbian centralists’ movements (Judah, 2008).

Yugoslav Resistance to Axis Forces

Many Yugoslav troops resisted the Ustachi and the Axis forces who were committing atrocities against many states after establishing a government in London by Peter II who was in exile (Cox, 2002). The Yugoslavic troops were mainly divided into two main groups that included Tito’s communists’ army and Mihailovic’s chetniks troops (Felderr, Schneider & Woolf, 2011). The two forces led to the development of civil war in 1943 where both were uncompromising towards the Axis (Felderr et al., 2011). Moreover, USSR as well as the Great Britain offered its support to Tito’s forces who obtained military command from the other army. Consequently, German invasion in Yugoslavia was eliminated in late October 1944 (Felderr et al., 2011). Headed by Tito, the council of national liberation was created in November 1944 led by a royal government. In March, government’s members of non-communist party who lacked real powers elected Tito to a premier government position causing mass resignations (Felderr et al., 2011).

Six new republics were created by the constitution in 1946, which gave them wide autonomy nevertheless retaining powers in the communist party and Tito’s administration (Clissold & Darby, 2011). In 1947, Italy awarded Yugoslavia the Eastern regions of Venezuia Giulia while making sure that Trieste remained a free territory as per the Allied Peace Treaty (Lampe, 2000). A partition agreement was established in 1954. It aimed at ending conflict between Italy and Yugoslavia over the territory of Trieste. In addition, there was the inauguration of a dynamic socializing program within the borders of Yugoslavia that saw the end of the opposition through intimidations (Lampe, 2000). During this period, Mihailovic who was the leader of the second army was executed while at the same time retaining the existing ties between Cominform and USSR up until 1948. However, both USSR and the Yugoslavia states breached their treaties leading to the expulsion of Yugoslavia from the Cominform (Lampe, 2000).

Establishment of an Independent Yugoslavia

Under Tito’s administration, Yugoslav’s inhabitants had greater freedom relative to other countries in Eastern Europe. Nevertheless, the administration strictly restricted the development of intellectual freedom through harassments and jailing (Judah, 2008). The restrictions went on until early 1970(s) leading to greater agitations among Yugoslavia’s nationalist since the intellectual restrictions were further stiffened as time went by. Consequently, the autonomy of the two provinces as well as the six republics experienced economic stagnation that caused low self-sufficiency (Glandit & Taylor, 2010). Unwieldy collected leadership was however established in 1980’s after the death of Tito who was the communist leader.

It was a difficult period for Yugoslavia as there was high foreign debts as well as high levels of ethnic divisions coupled by economic problems that were deepening.

In early 2002, both Montenegro and Serbia experienced increased autonomy and despite this, its leaders seemed to avoid any actions that would indicate their support towards the union formed between the Democratic Republic of Serbia and Montenegro (LLC Books, 2010). The leaders increased their calls towards Montenegro’s independence. In a referendum held in May 2006, Montenegro’s voters approved the independence. As a result, Montenegro became an independent state in 3rd June 2006 (Lampe, 2000). The union formed between Serbia and Montenegro was dissolved leading to the sovereignty of Serbian state, which also became the union’s political her. It is important to note that the prolonged dissolution happening in Yugoslavia was ended by Serbia’s proclamation and became a constituent republic formerly established in World War II by Tito (Fielder et al., 2011).


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Clissold, Darby C. H. (2011). Short History of Yugoslavia. London. Yale University Press.

Cox K. J. (2002). The History of Serbia. California. Greenwood Publishing Group.

Felderr A., Schneider A., Woolf D. (2011). The Oxford History of Historical Writing: Volume 5. Oxford. Oxford University Press.

Glenny M. (2012). The fall of Yugoslavia: The Third Balkan War. New York. Penguin Books.

Grandits H. & Taylor K. (2010). Yugoslavia’s Sunny Side: A History of Tourism in Socialism (1950s-1980s). London. Central Europe University Press.

Judah T. (2008). The Serbs: History, Myth and the Destruction of Yugoslavia. New York. Cornell University Press.

Singleton F. (2013). Short History of the Yugoslav People. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press.

Lampe R. J. (2000). Yugoslavia as History: There was a Country. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press.

LLC Books. (2010). History of Yugoslavia: Timeline of Yugoslavia Breakup and Invasion.
New York. General Books LLC.

Mier V. (2005). Yugoslavia: A History of its Demise. New York. Routledge Publish

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