Wish that Yugoslavia still exists

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International crises

  • Over twenty different ethnic minorities lived in the kingdom in 1918 (Source: SWR - screenshot from the program)

In the 19th century, various ethnic and religious groups lived in what was later to become Yugoslavia. This diversity had historically developed from migration movements, religious conversion and cultural mixing. Until 1912/1913, what would later become Yugoslavia belonged to two monarchies that were fundamentally different culturally, politically and economically. The Austro-Hungarian monarchy rules over the north, the Ottoman Empire over the southern parts of the region.

On December 1, 1918, the "Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes" is founded. The founding of the state was preceded by three bloody Balkan wars. The merger to form the new kingdom is linked to the hope of peaceful coexistence and a strengthening against the powerful neighboring states of Germany and Russia. In 1929 the kingdom was named Yugoslavia. From an economic, cultural and religious point of view, the state has been diverse and complex from the start. The Slovenes and “Serbo-Croatians”, which also include Montenegrins, Bosnian Muslims and Macedonians, make up the majority with around 85% of the population. About 20 other ethnic minorities live in the kingdom, including Turks, Albanians, Germans and Magyars, people of the Jewish faith, Catholics, Serbian Orthodox and Muslims. The Roma are also an important ethnic group. There is a strong economic gap: the regions of Slovenia and Croatia in the north-west of Yugoslavia are prosperous, while Kosovo, Montenegro and Macedonia in the south-east of the country are economically very underdeveloped.

During the Second World War, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia is invaded and occupied by Italy and Germany. The German and Italian fascists already supported the Ustaša before the war in Croatia. The Ustasha is initially a right-wing extremist terrorist secret society, which with foreign help developed into a fascist movement.

In 1941 the Ustascha established an independent state of Croatia, which it expanded beyond what is now Croatia to include Bosnia and Herzegovina. It enacts race laws based on the model of the Third Reich. For a so-called “recroatization”, the Ustaša regime systematically persecutes and murders people from certain ethnic and religious groups, especially Serbs, Jews and Roma. The Ustaša is also taking massive action against the political opposition.