Symbolic Unity (02:42)
View footage of Serbs, Croats, Slovenians, Bosnians, Montenegrins, and Kosovars observing Marshall Tito's funeral journey across Yugoslavia in 1980. A decade later, the nation disintegrated into violence. This documentary will examine whether his vision of multi-ethnic statehood was impossible.
Yugoslavia of the Monarchy (01:52)
Serbia had been independent since 1881. In 1918, Prince Alexander liberated the Balkans. A military hero, he symbolized unity among Croats and Slovenes. Over one million Balkan people had died in the war.
Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians (02:03)
In 1918, political elites unified the southern Slavic peoples under Prince Alexander. This rewarded Serbian war sacrifices and was strategically suitable for all. The Versailles System aimed to limit Germany’s power and create a buffer against the Soviet Union.
Promise of Yugoslavia (02:34)
Most Serbs, Croats and Slovenians supported a secular nation-state, believing it would overcome religious and ethnic differences. It embraced three religions, two alphabets, and four languages. Croats promoted a federal model dispersing Serbs; Serbs wanted hegemony.
Kachak Uprising and Vidovdan (02:16)
Alexander would rule over three peoples in a centralized parliamentary monarchy. In 1921, Albanian Muslims in Kosovo demanded unification with Albania. In 1389, Serbs lost a battle against Ottomans in Kosovo; Alexander’s suppression of the Kachaks continued the ancient conflict.
Croatian Opposition (03:34)
Political parties organized around autonomy; Belgrade resisted. Croatian Peasant Party leader Stjepan Radic wanted parts of Bosnia for Croatia. In 1928, a Montenegrin MP assassinated him; the Croatian reaction entrenched the conflict. He became an icon of Croatian nationalism.
Yugoslavian Dictatorship (02:08)
Alexander addressed Croatian opposition by dissolving the constitution, banning political parties, and renaming Yugoslavia. Youth gatherings tried to forge a new national identity and encourage patriotism.
Ustaše Party (02:56)
Yugoslavia's dictatorship radicalized Croatian debate. Fascist leader Ante Pavelic wanted to create a Croatian state on racial foundations by assassinating Alexander. He succeeded in France in 1930, but the kingdom united in grief, rather than collapsing.
Banovina of Croatia (01:37)
Alexander's successor Paul liberalized institutions and held elections. He granted Croatian autonomy in 1939 to preserve the kingdom. This set the stage for federalization.
Axis Rule (03:32)
In March 1941, Hitler pressured Yugoslavia to join the Axis. Belgrade citizens resisted, including communists; the army overthrew Paul. Hitler attacked and the monarchy capitulated. Hear how Axis powers split the nation. Germany placed Croatia under Pavelic; many Croats supported statehood.
Pavelic sought legitimacy through terror and ethnic cleansing policies. He introduced racial laws targeting Serbs and Jews. Hundreds of thousands of regime opponents were murdered at a concentration camp.
Yugoslavian Resistance (02:58)
In April 1941, Colonel Draza Mihailovich joined Peter's exiled government in London and created the Chetnik guerrillas. In 1942, Josip "Tito" Broz led the Partisans; learn about his communist military history. The two groups became competitors in ideology and tactics.
Yugoslavia in Chaos (01:40)
In 1943, the Allies abandoned Mihailovich to support Tito. The country fought Axis occupiers, engaged in an ideological civil war between communists and monarchists, and fought an ethnic war between Serb Chetniks and Croatian Ustase.
Tito's Triumph (02:45)
In October 1944, the Soviet-supported Partisans liberated Belgrade. On May 25, 1945, Tito celebrated his birthday with a ceremonial baton that had been relayed across the country. His personality cult helped unify the nation under a federation system and republic.
Republic of Yugoslavia (02:07)
Tito hoped industrialization and modernization would overcome national divisions, but also recognized the multiplicity of identities. The federation included Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Serbia. Tito held war trials and executed Mihailovich to consolidate his power.
Unity and Fraternity (02:40)
Tito tried to overcome war divisions by creating labor brigades to rebuild the country. In 1948, he planned to create a Balkan League to integrate the old Yugoslavia with Albania. Stalin saw Tito as a threat; Yugoslavia broke from the Soviet Union.
Yugoslavia's Economic and Social Model (03:15)
Thousands of Stalinists were held in Goli Otok, an island prison camp. Breaking with Stalin in 1948 solidified Tito's regime and led to the "self-management" economic system with socialist ideals, communal property, and worker-run businesses.
Yugoslavia's Golden Age (02:58)
The economy grew by six percent until the 1960s. Tito allowed cultural and intellectual freedom; the state financed abstract art and modernist literature. Borders opened for travel throughout Europe. Tito's independence from Moscow allowed U.S. financial assistance.
Threats to the Yugoslav Model (03:33)
Economic success hid social tensions and growing inequality between republics. In the late 1960s, Serbian students revolted to reform the economic system. In Kosovo, Albanians demanded equal rights, including higher education.
Croatian Spring (03:16)
In 1971, leaders demanded greater autonomy and economic freedom. Questions of national identity resurfaced. Tito repressed Serbian, Croatian and Kosovan protestors but granted greater autonomy to republics in 1974—undermining the federal model.
A Weak Confederation (01:41)
In May 1979, the Yugoslav people celebrated Tito's birthday. Constitutional revisions, student protests, and growing nationalism had undermined his unique governance model.
Credits: An Impossible Unity (00:31)
Credits: An Impossible Unity
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