Tito's Slavitos

A Brief History of Yugoslavia's Brief History

The Eye of the Storm

The history of the Southern Balkans is one of ethnic tension and political chaos, but there was a brief shining window of time during the Great War era when the region managed to rise above itself and unite under a cultural identity. Yugoslavia was the kingdom formed by those southern Slavic countries- Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia- which found themselves at once free and vulnerable after they were formed in the wake of WWI, having previously been a part of the Ottoman empire and then Austria-Hungary empire for what amounted to hundreds of years.

Towards Freedom

This order was short lived when Nazi Germany invaded in 1941, though the Yugoslav Partisans, a communist party led by Josip Broz Tito, fought hard to free the country and were eventually able to win Yugoslavia's independence in 1945 towards the tail end of WWII. The Partisans quickly created a communist government system, and like all other communist states at the time, allied themselves with the Soviet Union. However, Tito did not get on good terms with Stalin and so three years later pulled Yugoslavia out of the Iron Curtain.

Yugoslavia's Leaders:

Indie Communism

By 1961 the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was a major leader in the None Aligned movement, developing "a more decentralized and less repressive form of government as compared with other East European communist states during the Cold War"(US Office of the Historian). In this, they became an important component of the American plan to reduce the influence od the Soviet Union and so gained a lot of US funding. This funding was important as the communist system was slowly bleeding the young nation dry and without US support, it could not realistically sustain itself.

"Yugoslavia will cease to function as a federal state within a year, and will probably dissolve within two. Economic reform will not stave off the breakup. [...] A full-scale interrepublic war is unlikely, but serious intercommunal conflict will accompany the breakup and will continue afterward. The violence will be intractable and bitter. There is little the United States and its European allies can do to preserve Yugoslav unity." (National Intelligence Estimate)


In general, Yugoslavia was not a stable nation. Beyond finances and tension with the Soviet Union, the historic nationalistic animosity among the major Southern Balkan ethnic groups which composed the Yugoslavian population also greatly contributed to the strain of keeping the nation togeather. It would not be inaccurate to say that Tito held the nation together by sheer force of will, for upon his death in 1980 the country began to rapidly decline into a state of collapse. Power was almost entirely decentralized to the five states which composed Yugoslavia as a product of their 1974 constitution, and this along with 1989's general collapse of communism created a major political imbalance in the Yugoslavian state. Further, with the termination of the Soviet Union, the US no longer had any incentive to continue financing Yugoslavia, and so ceased Yugoslavia's only hope for keeping up with its own maintenance. In 1992 the land of the Southern Slavs finally dissolved into its component states, each becoming its own independent nation. Romania and Albania would go on to rejoin the Soviet alliance and become members of the Warsaw pact, though their sister nation-states were generally content living in the Third World.
Timeline of the Breakup of Yugoslavia