Disolution of Yugoslavia (1991- )


Figure 1.-- Ratko Mladic was the military commander of the Serb Bosnian forces. He has been called 'the spiritual father and executioner of ethnic cleansing'. He has been implicated in numerous war crimes, including genocide, extermination, murder, persecution, deportation, hostage taking, and terrorizing civilians. The most notable attrocity was the massacre of up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the Bosnia and Herzegovina 'safe haven' of Srebrenica, suposedly protected by Dutch U.N. troops (July 1995). This chilling photograph shows him patting a Bosnian Muslim boy on the cheek while his nen were preparing the slaughter of the men and older boys. The younger children and women were allowed to leave. Serbian officials finally arrested the long-time fugitive (May 26, 2011). He will be transfered to The Hague where he will be tried before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Yugoslavia was formed after World War out of several countries, principalities and renmaants of the Austro-Hungarain Empire. Almost from the beginning the union of South Slvs proved almost ungovernable. The Croats in particular objected to what they saw as efforts by the Serbs to dominate the country. The Croats even joined with the NAZIs after the World War II German invasion. After the War, Tito held the country together with brute force. After Tito died Milosivich used Serb natioanlism to gain power. When he was unable to hold Slovenia and Croatia in Yugoslavia, Milosivich set our to create a Greater Serbia. He supported Serb para-military groups to seize control of large areas of Bosnia and supress the Kosovars in Kosovo. None of the contending ethnic groups are without blame. Croat forces also carried out attrocities against Sebs and Muslims in Bosnia. European countries were unable to deter him. Only the reluctant and tardy threat of Amercan force stoped Milosivich in Bosnia. The actual use of force was needed in Kosovo. In both cases the United Nations was unable to act. Even in Serbinica where the U.N. guaranted the saftey of Bosnians, in the end Dutch U.N. peace keepers were ordered to abandon the Muslims to the Serbs. Finally when the U.N. failed to act, the United States acted through NATO. About 0.2 million people are believed to have been killed.

Formation

Yugoslavia was formed after World War out of several countries, principalities and renmaants of the Austro-Hungarain Empire. Almost from the beginning the union of South Slvs proved almost ungovernable. The Croats in particular objected to what they saw as efforts by the Serbs to dominate the country.

World War II

Hitler forced Prince Paul to join the Axis (March 1941). Riots in Belgrade force Prince Paul from power. An outrage Hitler ordered the Luftwaffe to carry out a terror bombing of Belgrade and invaded the country (April 1941). The country quickly fell and was divided up among Axis powers. The Croats cooperated with the NAZIs and the NDH was set up as a NAZI puppet. Himler and the Grand Mufti cooperated to recruit Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo for SS units to fight the growing insurgency. The NAZIs succeeded in killing most of the country's Jews. The NDH targetted Orthodox Serbs. . While the country quickly fell to the Germans, the Wehrmacht soon fond itself involved in an expanding and bloody guerilla war. The Allies eventually transferred support from the Royalist Chetniks to the Comminist partisans. It was the Partisans who finally liberated the country from NAZI occupation.

Communist Yugoslavia

After the War, Marshall Tito organized a Communist state. There were widespread reprisals of those who cooperated with the NAZIs or even were associatec with the non-Communist resistance groups. Large numbers of people were arrested, mny of whim were shot. Yugoslavia became one of the most anti-American of the Eastern European countries. It was, however, one of the two Communistv states not imposed by Stalin. (The other was Albania.) Stalin attempted to seize control promting a break with Stalin. Yugoslavia unlike the other Eastern European Communist satellites suceeded in estanlishing its independence from the Soviets. Domesticall, Tito used the full force of police state to hold the country together with brute force. Erhnic tensions persisted, but anyone attemmpting to appeal to ethnic issues faced arrest and long jail terms. Tito himself was a Croat, but never used his authority to favor Croatia.

Yugoslavia after Tito (1980)

Josip Tito died in 1980. After his death, unresolved ethnic, religious, and economic tensions began to surface. Yugoslavia was composed of six republics (Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegr, Serbia, and Slovenia) and two self-governing provinces (Kosovo and Vodynia). Serbia (the largest republic) dominated the federal government and army.

Milosivich

After Tito died Communists began to lose power. Thus occurred through Eastern Europe in the 1980s, especially after Gobechev came to poer (1985) and deciced that the Soviet Union would no longer use force to maintain Communist regimes. Slobodan Milosevic (1941-), who had been a colorless Communist aparatchek conceived of using Serbian nationalism (1987). This and thin veiled actions to loot the national treasury caused resentment in the other republics leading to their sucession from the Yugoslav federation. When he was unable to hold Slovenia and Croatia in Yugoslavia, Milosivich set out to create a Greater Serbia. This meant seizing control of areas of Bosnia and Croatia, both of which has substantial Serb populations. Milosivich also was determined to maintain control of Kosovo and reduce the Kosovar presence.

Fall of Communism (1989)

The dramatic events in Poland sent tremors through the entire Soviet empire in Eastern Europe. The Polish Communist Party's effort to supress Solidarity bu using the Army failed as the country'seconomy slowly unraveled. The Communists were eventually forced to come to terms with Solidarity. This put pressure on Soviet-backed Communist regimes throughout Eastern Europe. Previously Soiviet leaders had used the Red Army to supress either through military action or the threat of intervention to efforts at indepedence and democratic reform (East Germany, Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia). Only in Yugoslavia did Stalin hesitate (1948). The linch-pin aftyer the rise of Solidarity in Polad was East Germany. The Soviets were understandably concerned about the collapse of the German Democratic Republic which was established and maintained in power by thc Red Army. With little domestic support, the DDR, epecially after the Solidarity victory in Poland, began to teeter as demonstrators began to challenge the regime. General Secretary Gorbechev had to make a crucial decesion. Would he order the Red Army forces in the DDR to support the Communidt regime. He decided not to do so. And as a result, the Berlin Wall came down and the regime collapsed. This was followed by the collapse of Communism throughout theSoviet empire. Themost dramatic events were in Romanian and the shooting of the Ceausescus. Throughout the former Soviet satellites, Communist dictatorships were replaced by reformist regimes establishing liberal democratic governments and restoring free market capitalism.

Yugoslav Wars of Independence/Civil War (1991-95)

The impact of the revolutions throughout Eastern Europe and the fall of Communism was different in Yugoslavia than the rest of Eastern Euriope. Yugoslavia had not been a part of the Soviet empire and the regime in Belgrade did not fall. The events did, however, enspire nationalist groups outside of Serbia who looked on the Serb-dominated government much as other Eastern Europeans looked on the Soviets. There was no rise of progressive, Western-oriented leaders, but the growth of nationalist forces led by former Communist finctionries. In many ways they were old-fashioned. reviving the nationalist agendas that had been supressed during Tito's rule. Pursuing these nationlist agendas commonly meant suppressing democratic practices and human rights--just the oppositecof what was occurring in the rest of Eastern Europe. At the center of this Slobodan Milosevic, but there were others like Tudjman were cut from the same cloth. Milosevic was a Serb leader, but also controlled the Yugoslav central government and used it in an effoirt to prevent the various other ethnic groups from seceeding. In that effort he launched four and lost four wars, resulting several hundred thousand deaths and the sewing of ethnic hatred that still festers in the countries that formed from the former Yugoslavia. Milosivich supported Serb para-military groups to seize control of large areas of Bosnia and supress the Kosovars in Kosovo. None of the contending ethnic groups are without blame. Croat forces also carried out attricities against Sebs and Muslims in Bosnia. European countries were unable to deter him. Only the reluctant and tardy threat of Amercan force stoped Milosivich in Bosnia.

Sources

Krilic, Samir. "Bosnian Serbs admit to massacre," Washington Post June 12, 2004, p. 11. The findings are based on the work of the Srebrenica Commission cwhich was omposed of Serb judges and lawyers, a represenarve for the victims, and an international expert.

Sullivan, Stacey. Be Not Afraid, For You have Sons in America: How a Brooklyn Roofer Helped Lure the U.S. Into the Kosovo War (St. Martins, 2004), 330p.






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Created: 2:03 AM 6/14/2004
Last updated: 9:07 PM 4/12/2012