The Dissolution of Yugoslavia: The History of the Yugoslav Wars and the Political Problems that Led to Yugoslavia’s Demise examines how the multicultural nation broke apart in the 1980s and 1990s…you will learn about the Yugoslave Wars like never before.
In the wake of World War I, as the political boundaries of Europe and the Middle East were redrawn, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, initially known as the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, came into existence with a monarch as its head of state. Confirmed at the 1919 Versailles Conference, the “first” Yugoslavia was a particularly fragile enterprise, and there was almost constant tension between the majority Serbs and the other Yugoslav nationalities, especially the Croats. As a result, the Kingdom was a land of political assassinations, underground terrorist organizations, and ethnic animosities. In 1929, King Alexander I suspended democracy and ruled as a dictator until he himself was assassinated in 1934.
During his reign, Tito managed to quash the intense national feelings of the diverse groups making up the Yugoslavian population, and he did so through several methods. He managed to successfully play the two superpower rivals, the United States and Soviet Union, off against each other during the Cold War, and in doing so, he maintained a considerable amount of independence from both, even as he additionally received foreign aid to keep his regime afloat. All the while he remained defiant, once penning a legendary letter to Joseph Stalin warning the Soviet dictator, “To Joseph Stalin: Stop sending people to kill me! We’ve already captured five of them, one of them with a bomb and another with a rifle… If you don’t stop sending killers, I’ll send a very fast working one to Moscow and I certainly won’t have to send another.”
Internal issues plagued the country in its final years and Tito had tinkered with Yugoslavia’s constitution on several occasions. His final attempt, in 1974, saw the partial separation of Kosovo – crucial in the Serb national story – from the rest of Serbia…Yugoslavia required far-sighted, magnanimous leaders to avoid internecine disputes, but none were available, or at least in positions of power in the 1980s. In Croatia, Franjo Tudjman – a long time Croat nationalist – emerged as the republic’s leader, and Slobodan Miloševic rose to prominence in the middle of the decade and, despite apparently being a career communist, positioned himself as “defender of the Serbs.” He began ousting his rivals and installing sympathetic underlings into leadership positions in Kosovo, Vojvodina, and Montenegro, essentially giving him a majority bloc at the federal level.
Depending on the source, many authors have focused on different catalysts for Yugoslavia’s demise, but Vesna Drapac may have succinctly summed the situation up when he wrote that by the end, the state “lacked a reason to exist”.