Yugoslavia was devestated by World War II. Relatively little damage was done during the Germn invasion as it occured so swiftly. And Yugoslavia was not heavily bombed bybthe Allies. The resulting guerilla struggle was a different matter. This became both a complicated struggle struggle with the Axis occupiers, between resistnce groups, and among the various ethnic groups which for centuries had lived with each other in relative harmony. Yugoslavia was not hevily industrialized or urbanized. Most of the popultion lived in rual areas or small villages in an economy based on peasant agriculture. This meant that unlike a country like Germany, the physical plant of the country while heavily damaged was not destroyed and within the capacity of the population to repair and rebuild. Whole villages had been destroyed, but a relatively small part of the country's willages. And while many farm buildings had been destroyed, again a rather small percentage and the land itself could immeiately be returned to full agricultural prosperity. The major loss of the War was the large numbers of people killed in the fighting and in various killing operations. Here Yugoslavia was among the countries suffering the greatest losses. As a result of the Partisan victory, the country was left in the hands of Tito and the Communists. Tito refused to recognize King Peter and the Royal Government in Exile. Chetnik leader Mihailović was executed. There were immediate problems with the Allied armies in Austria where the Partisns had entered. The status of Trieste became a major issue. Another imporant issue was the status of the anti-Coomunist Yugoslav forces that attempted to surrender to the Allies. Tito set up a brutal Communist Government, but from the beginning there were problems. The country was primarily liberated by the Partisans, but by 1944, Soviet troops also participted in military operations. Ad as in Germany, there was widespread rape by Red Army soldiers. In adition, Tito rejected some of the advise of Soviet advisers, especially Soviet-style collectivization. This and other issues would eventually lead a few years after the War to a break with Stalin, a very dangerous step for a European Communist. For the time being, however, Yugoslavia was a part of the Soviet Bloc and the took the most aggressive posture toward theWrstrn allies who had aided them during the War. This only changed as a result of the split with Stalin.
Yugoslavia was devestated by World War II. Relatively little damage was done during the Germn invasion as it occured so swiftly. And Yugoslavia was not heavily bombed bybthe Allies. The resulting guerilla struggle was a different matter. This became both a complicated struggle struggle with the Axis occupiers, between resistance groups, and among the various ethnic groups which for centuries had lived with each other in relative harmony. Yugoslavia was not hevilt industrialized or urbanized. Most of the popultion lived in rual areas or small villages in n economy based on peasant agriculture. This mean that unlike a country like Germany, the physical plant of the country while heavily damaged was not destroyed and within the capacity of the population to repair and rebuild. Whole villages had been destroyed, but a relatively small part of the country's villages. And while many farm buildings had been destroyed, again a rather small percentage and the land itself could immeiately be returned to full agricultural prosperity. The major loss of the War was the large numbers of people killed in the fighting and in he various killing operations. Here Yugoslavia was among the countries suffering the greatest losses.
The status of Trieste became a major issue at the end of the War. Trieste had been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but was annexed by Italy at the end of Workd War I. After Italy withdrew from Wirld war II (Seprember 1943), the area became the location of Italian and Yugoslav (Mostly Slovenian) partisan activity. There were Allied bombing raids. The Germans who occupied the city, deported the city's Jewish community to the Reich where the the vast majority were murdered. With the Germans retrearing from northern Italy, the Comitato di Liberazione Nazionale (Italian anti-Fascist National Liberation Committee --CLN) in Marzari and Savio Fonda with some 3,500 volunteer fighters rose up against the Germans (April 30). The Yugoslav Partisans' 8th Dalmatian Corps entered Trieste (May 1). The Germans held on to the courts and the castle of San Giusto. The Germans refused to surrender to the Yugoslaves. The 2nd New Zealand Division advanced toward Trieste along Route 14 around the northern coast of the Adriatic sea and finally reached the city (May 2). The German garrison surrendered to them, but were then turned over to the Yugoslavs. The NewZealanders did nit chllenge Yugolav control of the city. TheYugoslavs held full control of the city during the "forty days of Trieste". [Bramwell, p. 138.] The Yugoslavs used this priod to arrest hundreds of Italians and Slovenes. Many of thise disappeared. [Petacco, p.89.] Among those arrested were Fascists and other collaborationits, but the Partisans also arrested Italian nationalists and those blieved to be anti-Communist opponents of Yugoslav Communism. Some were interned in Yugoslav concentration camps (primarily Borovnica in Slovenia). Others were murdered and thrown into potholes (foibe) on the Karst plateau. [Petacco, p. 90] The United States, the United Kingdom, and Yugoslavia agreed on the control of Trieste (June 8). Yugoslav forces withdrew from Trieste and a period of joint British-U.S. military administration began. The Julian March was divided between Anglo-American and Yugoslav military administration. TheParis Peace Treaty established the Free Territory of Trieste (September 1947).
There were immediate problems with the Allied armies in Austria and Italy. An issue was the status of the anti-Communist Yugoslav forces that attempted to surrender to the Allies. Allied troops at the end of the War entred what had formerly been independent Austria from both Germany and Italy. Austria and Italy had a pre-War border with Yugoslavia. British troops thus approached the Yugoslav border and Partisan troops entered ares of Austria. Some 2,500 members of the Serbian Volunteer Corps surrendered to the British
in the town of Palmanova, about 50 km northwest of Trieste in northeasternn Italy (May 5). nother 2,500 additional Serbians surrendered to the British at Unterbergen on the Drava River (May 12). British troops in Klagenfurt, Austria, report being aggresively confronted by Yugoslav PartisansMay 11-12). The British ambassador to the Yugoslav coalition government in Belgrade handed Tito a note demanding that the Yugoslav troops withdraw from Austria. Soon after, the largest surviving column of the Croatian Home Guard, the Ustaše, the XVth SS Cossack Cavalry Corps and the remnants of the Serbian State Guard, and the Serbian Volunteer Corps, reached the southern Austrian border near the town of Bleiburg (May 15). Officials of the Independent State of Croatia attempted to negotiate a surrender to the British. Despite commiting terrible war crimes, Croatia had adhered to the Geneva Convention (1943). And they were recognised as a belligerent power. The British ignored the request. The people in the column, including many civilian, were mostly turned over to the Yugoslav government -- Operation Keelhaul. Tito proceeded to place Partisan forces in Austria under Allied control (May 15). He agreed to withdraw them and this begn (May 20).
Stalin after the German invasion at the behest of the Britush Government hich began aiding them established relations with the Royal government-in-exile. This was similar to the diplomatic steps concrning the Polish Government in exile. Stalin promised the British that King Peter and the Royal Government would be restored after the War. Stalin as part of a policy to regularize relations with the Western powers fighting the Germns abd this aiding the Soviet war effort, instructed Tito to form a Popular Front with Yigoslav 'bourgeois parties'. This never occurred. Tito made this very clear after the War. "... from the first day of the struggle against the occupying forces we had to begin creating a new people’s government instead of the old government ... which under the occupation had for the most part placed itself at the service of the Germans and the Italians ... the Comintern warned us not to forget that an anti-fascist war was being waged and that it was a mistake to found new organs of government. What did this mean? What would have happened if we had accepted these instructions? It would have meant suicide. We should never have been able even to launch the uprising, we should have been unable to mobilise the majority of the people if we had not offered them a clear prospect of a new, happier and more equitable Yugoslavia rising out of that terrible war ... during this period [the Comintern] was negotiating with the Royal Yugoslav Government In Exile." [Tito] And he did not make a secret of his intentions. Tito cabled the participants of the Big Three conference in Moscow (October 1943), informing them that 'we acknowledge neither the Yugoslav government in exile nor the King abroad, because for two and a half years they have supported the traitor Draza Mihailoic ... we shall not allow them to return to Yugoslavia because that would mean civil war." Tito's Partisans thus not only fought the Axis armies occupying Yugoslavia and their Allies like the vicious Croat Ustaše, but a civil war against the Royalists and the non-Communist forces, some of whom were resisting th Germans and others copperating with them. As a result of the Partisan victory, the country was left in the hands of Tito and the Communists. Tito refused to recognize King Peter and the Royal Government in Exile, in defince of Stalin's pledge. People’s Committees were in full control of the country. In a post-war show election, Tito was elected President, boasting of a 90 per cent election victory. There was a brief public relations sharade of attempting to form a coalition government with 'bourgeois elements'. Tito then declared a People’s Republic (November 1945). This did not upset Stalin who had begun a similar process throughout Eastern Europe. Other steps by Tito wer less favorbly received in the Kremlin.
Agents of the Yugoslav Department of National Security (Odsjek Zaštite Naroda--OZNA) arreted the Chetnik leader Mihailović (March 13, 1946). He was tried for high treason and war crimes (June 10 to July 15). The Court predictbly found him guilty. Mihailović, together with nine other Chetnik and Nedić's officers, was executed in Lisičiji Potok (July 18).
Tito set up concentration camps all over the country to deal with those resisting the Communist takeover.
Tito set in motion a rapid program of nationalizing businesses. Tito claimed that most m=business owners were NAZI collaborators. This is unlikely, but it was the case that to continue doing business, owner did have to follow regulations and ordrs of the occupation authorities. This was the case throughout NAZI occupied Europe. Within months 80 percebt of Yugoslavia's surviving industry was in the hands of the state, not surprising in a Communist country. And Tito's goverment set up a central planning structure as in the Soviet Union. Yugoslavia was, however, not an industrialized country. What was important to most of the population was land ownership. Tito and the partisans had won considerable popular support given their role in defeating the Germans. This included a wide swath of the peasantry which constiuted over 90 pecent of the population. Soviet advisors were urging collectivization. Tito was a committed Communist. Collectivization was not part of Marxist dictrine, largely because he dealt primarily with the industril protalerit, not the rurl peasntry. Collectivization was Stalin'scontribution to Marxism. But Tito faced the same issue that Stalin did, was it sensible to leave amassivepart of the population outside of state control. Tito decided to refrain from massive collectivization. We are not sure just why. He was a committed Communist. Soviet advisers were urging it. But for what ever reason, Yugoslav fatms which remained primarily in private hands. Some believe that Tito’s decesion was essentially forced upon him by the People’s Committee movement which included large numbers of peasa nt farmers. Of course, th Yugolave Government could significantly impact agricultural through credit terms, price regultionn, and affecting th vilabolity on inputs like seed and fertilizer.
Tito set up a brutal Communist Government, but from the beginning there were problems. The country was primarily liberated by the Partisans, but by 1944 Soviet troops also participted in military operations. And as in Germany, there were rapes by Red Army soldiers, although on a much smaller scale. Tito and his colleagues did not publically complain, but it caused ill will. Tito did complain to General Korneev who exploded and took it as an attack on the hinor of the Red Army. Milovan Djilas when he visited Mocow was severely reprimanded by Stalin. In addition, Tito rejected some of the advise of Soviet advisers, especially Soviet-style collectivization. This and other issues would eventually lead a few years after the War to a break with Stalin, a very dangerous step for a European Communist. For the time being, however, Yugoslavia was a part of the Soviet Bloc and the took the most aggressive posture toward theWrstrn allies who had aided them during the War. This only changed as a result of the split with Stalin.
Tito unlike the other Eastern European countries took over a country that was not occupied by the Soviet Union. He conducted a vicious campaign against political opponents, especially those associated with the Chetnkiks. He set up Soviet-style concentration camps in which large numbers of people were killed. Despite Allied assistance during the War, he took a hard line approach to the Allies. Several Allied air craft were shot down and the bordr closed. Stalin was, however, not entirely satisfied and attempted to gain control of Yugoslavia as he had in the rest of Eastern Europe (1947-48). It looked for a while that Stalin might order the Red Army to launch a military invasion, but he never did so. The outcome was the Tito-Stalin rift. The Western Allies began courting Tito. There was even talk of NATO membership. Closer relations were disrupted, however, when a crisis developed over Trieste (1953). The death of Stalin and Khruchev's de-Stalinization campaign made it possible for a resumption of relations with the Soviets, but on the clar basis of Yugoslav independence (1956). Ironically this was also the year the Soviets supressed the independence movement in neighboring Hungary. Gradually Tito and Yugoslavia adopted a non-aligned foreign policy and a mixed economy.
Bramwell, Anna. Refugees in the Age of Total War (Unwin Hyman: 1988).
Petacco, Arrigo. Tragedy Revealed: The Story of Italians from Istria, Dalmatia, and Venezia Giulia, 1943-1956 (University of Toronto Press: 2005).
Tito. Tito Speaks (1953).
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