Version classiqueVersion mobile
OpenEdition Books

Ideologies and National Identities

 | 
John Lampe
, 
Mark Mazower

Chapter 10. Struggling with Yugoslavism: Dilemmas of Interwar Serb Political Thought

Marko Bulatović

Texte intégral

“The Serb people have no more sacred object than that of the state, before the war—Serbia, today—Yugoslavia. That which you cannot obtain from them by invoking ideas of Serbdom, Orthodoxy, or freedom, you can always get by calling upon the interests of the state.”
Dragoljub Jovanović, 1941

  • 1 1) Except for some widely accepted Anglicized forms, names in this article have been rendered in t (...)

1In December 1918, following the four-year tragedy of the First World War, crown-prince and regent of Serbia Aleksandar Karadjordjević solemnly proclaimed the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes.1 The new kingdom— usually referred to as Yugoslavia from its very inception—would join a long array of newly founded states. At the same time, the profoundly restructured political map of Europe no longer had a place for four great empires—the Ottoman, Russian, German, and Austrian-Hungarian. Alongside the great quartet, however, were some lesser absentees. The small Kingdom of Serbia, which had credentials as first an autonomous and then a sovereign state for almost a century, also vanished. The Kingdom, a winner in the Great War, willingly transferred its sovereignty to the new Yugoslav state. The terms of this transfer would however prove to be controversial, not only among Croats, Slovenes and other non-Serbs, as is well known, but also among the Serbs themselves.

2This chapter assesses the meaning and importance of Yugoslavism as a national identity and state ideology among the Serb elites from 1914 to 1941. Arguably, no other national elite in Yugoslavia embraced both of these concepts with more enthusiasm than the Serb elite. The chosen period is a compact one in the history of Serb political thought—the year 1914 gave birth to the official Yugoslav program, while 1941 would bring about a collapse of both the Yugoslav state and the idea of Yugoslavism as a single national identity. Neither Yugoslavia nor Yugoslavism would ever again be resurrected on similar terms.

3If there had been any single thread within political thought in Serbia before 1914, it would have been the unification of all Serbs into a larger Serbian state. Likewise, many prominent Serb politicians and intellectuals living outside the Serbian state had long cherished the political ideal of joining an expanded Serbia, their perceived fatherland. That desired state, however, had never been seriously conceptualized. And yet, in 1918 the Serbs found themselves in a single state, albeit one where they were at most a plurality, far from a majority. Given this turn of events, any “ideology of unification” lost its meaning while, at the same time, the challenges of the new political framework did not allow for an ideological vacuum. Coming to grips with the reality of the newborn state required the Serb elite to search for another national ideology. Yugoslavism was the obvious candidate.

  • 2 The cultural component of Yugoslavism, which was most prominent during the pre-Yugoslav era in the (...)

4Yugoslavism, in its original nineteenth-century form, was a romantic idea cherished by a few. It was a notion of a common South Slav culture and society, sometimes combined with wishful thinking about a future common state in which that society would grow free and prosperous. By the turn of the century, this idea had gained, and lost, more definite contours in Croatian politics. Once the state of the South Slavs was formed in 1918, Yugoslavism, in its various shades, would be transformed from its sociocultural setting into an ideology which seems to have been the dominant political concept among Serbs in the interwar years. This is not to say that Serb political thought would become less heterogeneous once the Yugoslav state was established. It only means that—as in the case of the prewar drive towards unification—Yugoslavism, in its versions, was the only common denominator in Serb political discourse.2

Towards a “Centuries-long Dream”

  • 3 In F. Čulinović, ed., Dokumenti o Jugoslaviji: Historijat od osnutka zajedničke države do danas (Z (...)
  • 4 See Ivo Lederer, “Nationalism and the Yugoslavs”, in Peter Sugar and Ivo Lederer, eds., Nationalis (...)

5In the days following the establishment of the Yugoslav kingdom, Prince-Regent Aleksandar issued a manifesto addressed to “his people” stating that a “vow, repeatedly affirmed through centuries by generations of our predecessors, has been fulfilled.”3 Throughout the interwar period—and especially during the early euphoria of liberation and unification—the idea of a longsought-after common state of the South Slavs was repeatedly stressed. However, the Yugoslav idea in Serb political thought seems to have been of much more recent origin. While the nineteenth-century Serb intelligentsia undoubtedly recognized the need for cooperation among all South Slavs, their notions of a common South Slav nationality were hardly well defined. The “age of nationalism” had slowly but surely ushered in a set of rules for defining national allegiances and in it the Serb identity would become fairly well established. However, this is not to say that the limits of that identity were clearly set. Whereas the development of Serb national consciousness had begun before the “age of nationalism,” the idea of Serb “linguistic nationhood” would gain prominence by the 1840s. Furthermore, in the course of the nineteenth century, this linguistic nationalism would merge with the concept of Serb “political nationhood” as a consequence of Serbia’s autonomy (from 1830) and independence (from 1878).4

  • 5 See John Lampe, Yugoslavia as History: Twice There was a Country (Cambridge: Cambridge University (...)
  • 6 Much has been written in this respect on Ilija Garašanin’s “Načertanije” of 1844; however, it woul (...)

6Thus, the emergence and subsequent strengthening of the Serbian state immensely furthered the development of Serb national identity among Serbians (Serbs from Serbia) as well as Serbs living outside of Serbia. As a self-governing state with budding political institutions, an active foreign policy, and an increasingly homogeneous ethnic composition, Serbia became a core state with which most Serbs could easily identify. By the early twentieth century, it became attractive as a political model to the other peoples in the region which strove for national states of their own.5 However, the real power of the Serbian state should not be overestimated. Its dominant ideology of liberation and unification of all Serbs was very vaguely defined and never written down as a complete political program.6 On the other hand, the increasingly defensive Ottoman Empire and the still assertive Habsburg Monarchy were incomparably more powerful neighbors which stood in the way of Serbia’s desired expansion. Thus, Serbia’s drive towards cooperation with other South Slavs was conditioned by the need to preserve its vulnerable independence as much as the prevalent ideology of Serb unification.

7An elaborated concept of multi-ethnic pan–South Slav unification, coupled with the notion of a common South Slav nationality that transcended the separate Serb identity, was nowhere to be found in nineteenth-century Serbia. Serbian leaders had, up to the start of the First World War, never really reached beyond the prospect of underpinning and expanding their Serbian nation-state. Although programs for creating a Yugoslav or Balkan union had occasionally been advanced in the region, Serbian statesmen never considered them as anything but a wider framework which would enable Serb unification. Likewise, their co-nationals living in the surrounding empires were increasingly drawn to identification with their perceived national center. Despite some attempts by the Habsburg Serbs at acquiring civic rather than ethnic nationhood, the Balkan Wars of 1912–13 provided a final push to identify with the ethnic core in Serbia.

  • 7 See D. Janković, Srbija i jugoslovensko pitanje 1914–1915. godine (Belgrade, 1973).

8The First World War brought about a dramatic shift in approaches to the Yugoslav question. For the first time, amidst the wartime chaos, the idea of creating a new state encompassing most of the South Slavs began to take shape. Serb politicians and intellectuals took part in the two principal advocates of unification which would arise from the Habsburg framework—the Yugoslav Committee operating out of London from 1915 and the National Council convened in October 1918 in Zagreb. More importantly, the Serbian state would, early in the war, declare its war aims as the “struggle for liberation and unification of all our fettered brethrens, Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes.” True, this statement, advanced by the Serbian National Assembly in the temporary capital of Niš in December 1914, was just a vague formulation intended to win Entente support against Austria–Hungary. Yet, the so-called Niš Declaration was the first official document in the Serbian shift from the policy of exclusive Serb unification towards the creation of a single South Slavic state.7

  • 8 Stanoje Stanojević (1874–1937) was a prominent historian, professor at the Bel-grade University an (...)
  • 9 9 Certainly, the prospects of interwar Yugoslav political dynamics were not dependent solely on th (...)

9From December 1914 on, Serbian war propaganda would push for South Slavic unification and advance the concept of a “trinomial people.” This concept implied that a single people with three names were legitimately striving for their national state. However, sometimes within the same document, we find the “trinomial people” to be interchangeable with the “Serb people.” In Document 1, there is ample evidence of this confusion. Stanoje Stanojević,8 who was, together with many other distinguished scholars, charged with articulating Serbia’s war aims for the international public, wrote of a single people of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, but he also identified the unification of “our people” with the unification of Serbdom. Consistently, throughout the war, Serb elites dedicated their energy to explaining and justifying the program for the creation of a new, Yugoslav state, but they offered no precise formulation on the sensitive questions of its internal structure. Although Serbia’s war effort undoubtedly drained all of its energies—and a detailed elaboration of a future state framework was hardly an option—these questions were so important that the unclear notions and delayed considerations forecast serious trouble for the would-be Yugoslavia.9

  • 10 Nikola Pašić (1844–1926) was a primary founder of the Serbian Radical Party and prime minister of (...)
  • 11 In Dj. Stanković, Nikola Pašić i Hrvati (1918–1923) (Belgrade, 1995), 407–08.

10Stubborn adherence to traditional political principles and deep mistrust of “outsiders”—and this included the Serbian opposition—distinguished the wartime premiership of Nikola Pašić10 in general and in respect to the Yugoslav idea in particular. Nevertheless, even among opposition circles, consideration of the crucial questions about the future state would be deferred until the postwar period. Therefore, the following comment from Prime Minister Pašić from 1917 provides a good illustration of the general Serb attitude towards the arrangement of the projected state: “A Serb, wherever he is, wants to unite with Serbia without questioning her state structure or her constitution. Instead, he says: I want to live with my brothers in a free and independent state; if its internal structure is not good, we shall fix it together.”11

The Formative Years—Adapting to “Yugoslavdom”

  • 12 See Lj. Dimić, Istorija srpske državnosti: Srbija u Jugoslaviji (Novi Sad, 2001).

11After 1918, Serbia would completely fold into the new framework. Aside from the Serb name listed in the new state’s title, all elements of its statehood perished within Yugoslavia. In the first years of the new kingdom, alongside the central government there were also several provincial governments, but Serbia did not have one. And as the former Serbian constitution was suspended, so the Serbian Parliament was dissolved in December 1918. The main pillar supporting such a transformation was the perception of the Yugoslav kingdom as a natural and painless continuation of Serbian state tradition: there was a Serbian monarch on the throne, Serb political domination in political life, and a Serb plurality.12

  • 13 Certainly, “national oneness” was not an exclusively Serb formula. Aside from being accepted as a (...)
  • 14 On state structuring during the first years of Yugoslavia see Ivo Banac, The National Question in (...)

12With the principles of state formation so fluid, it is no wonder that the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes began its life with a major problem in structuring itself. The formative years proved how incongruous was the initial watchword—“national oneness and state unity”—as it soon became evident that “tribal” designations dominated the political stage.13 The constitutional question would exhaust almost all the energies of political participants, ending in a solution that hardly satisfied anyone but the two leading Serb-dominated parties—the Radicals and the Democrats. Despite substantial differences between them, both parties insisted on the unitary nature of the new state and they managed to impose their will on the rest of the country.14

13Given the persistence of unification as a desired end throughout the modern history of Serbs, the creation of Yugoslavia could have been perceived as a great, or even final, accomplishment of their national goals. When Yugoslavia emerged, the outlook among South Slav elites could have hardly been free from ethnic nationalism. Thus, the Serb elites were unlikely to view their new and deliberately chosen state framework as anything but the continuation of their old and jealously guarded Serbian statehood. The uneasy adaptation to the state’s multi-ethnic composition, and the fact that Serbian statehood was invested in the new state, would steer the Serbs toward Yugoslavism as the most promising substitute for their “lost” ideology. The newly embraced ideology was basically a two-part response to the new circumstances: one part preserved the state framework within which “all Serbs are united”; the other attempted to broaden their sense of national identity and thus make their adaptation to the previously unknown environ-ment easier. Interwar developments reveal that while the former aspect proved to be long lasting, the latter did not take a firm hold over Serb politics.

  • 15 The “amputation” of “non-Serb lands” gained some prominence as a possibility in the early 1920s; t (...)

14Already during the war, as mentioned above, the notion of merging Serbia into the Yugoslav framework irrevocably tied the prospects of the Serb national question to the new state. Pašić was convinced—from at least 1917—that another Serb homogeneous state could not be made out of the new framework without sacrificing the already accomplished pan-Serb unification. Any speculation about a federation and, subsequently, a separation (“amputation”) of the “non-Serb” areas made leading Serbs very apprehensive.15

  • 16 Ljubomir Stojanović (1860–1930) was a well-known historian and linguist. Like Stanojević, Stojanov (...)

15The foundations of prewar Serb political thought inevitably changed during the 1920s. Yugoslavism undoubtedly was a widely accepted ideological response, but it also introduced much confusion among Serb elites as soon as the first crises arose. Although “national oneness” was the operative word in public discourse, it was often questioned as an ideal hardly achieved as yet. We can see in Document 2 that Ljuba Stojanović16 realized the complexities of this favorite slogan and considered national oneness only as a process in the making, whose ultimate success was far from guaranteed. A common nationality might be achievable sometime in the future, but the essence of Yugoslav orientation was, as he saw it, the need of all the constituent nations for a common state.

  • 17 Ž. Spasojević, “Savremeno pravo i država,” in Jugoslovenska demokratska liga, (Geneva, 1919), VI.

16It became obvious, at least to some leading Serb intellectuals, how complicated the building of their new state would be. Živan Spasojević, a professor of law from Belgrade, was one among many who expressed caution in dealing with the question of national oneness since, in his words, “our road is not to assume that we are already one, but only with time is there going to be a true merger of all the elements.” He added that “… there is one dangerous error—the wish to implement mechanically that which used to be valuable, albeit outmoded, for one homogeneous part of the people, to all and different parts of the people in the new age.”17

17The heated atmosphere of the first decade was hardly conducive to further elaboration of Yugoslavism as national ideology. Prospects for a normal political life had been gloomy even before the first constitutional feuds began. It was obvious that, in the absence of a firmly established state structure and order, the king would assume an exceptionally large role. Most Serbs would embrace the crown as the strongest remaining symbol of former Serbian statehood. There was a widespread belief that the crown, as the only real guarantor of both Serbdom and Serbian statehood, would provide for the continuing, albeit virtual, existence of the Serbian state and the Serbian national body within the new multinational setting. On the other hand, by vesting the crown with too much power, the Serb elite would render the entire Yugoslav establishment vulnerable to its abuse.

  • 18 Lj. Stojanović, “Još o ‘Srpskom pitanju,’” Nova Evropa 12, no. 14 (1925): 413.

18One gets the impression that almost none of the prominent Serbs questioned the need for the Yugoslav state during the first postwar decade. However, Serb politics in the 1920s was marked by divisive partisanship and growing disillusionment. Even the aforementioned Ljuba Stojanović, one of the most informed contributors to a number of interwar journals and newspapers, would bitterly conclude that “… writing rarely bears fruit anyway; people are either illiterate or do not have time for reading anything aside from the partisan pieces written by party agents who lack the ability of independent and critical thought.”18

The Royal Coup—Dictatorship for “Integral” Yugoslavism

  • 19 Cited in F. Čulinović, ed., Dokumenti, 291–92.

19In 1928, in the midst of a heated discussion in the Yugoslav parliament, a Radical deputy from Montenegro killed two Croat deputies and mortally wounded the leader of the Croat Peasant Party, Stjepan Radić. This event was a tragic yet symptomatic act in the long-lasting national and political crisis. In response, the single strongest supporter of the Yugoslav state made a radical move—King Aleksandar Karadjordjević decided to strengthen the state and establish national unity by means of royal dictatorship. He proclaimed, on 6 January 1929, that there was only one constitutive nation in the state—a Yugoslav one—in place of what he called “tribal” exclusiveness. Later that year, the country’s name was changed to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, while the laws replacing the 1921 constitution inaugurated a major effort for state and national integration. Moreover, the king proclaimed the process of formation of the Yugoslav nation as being already completed. “The hour has come,” said Aleksandar, “when there cannot and must not be any intermediaries between the People and the King. Preserving national and state unity is the highest goal of my reign and it must be the highest law for me and everyone else …”19

  • 20 See Constantin Iordachi’s chapter in this volume.

20Therefore, the crown, which had been the bearer of Serbia’s merger into Yugoslavia, now assumed leadership in the process of national transformation. This undoubtedly provided a huge impetus for the Serb political body to participate in the new project—to affirm a new national identity, one that, if carried through on the French pattern, would exclude all others. Whereas most Serbs never needed any incentives to accept the state component of Yugoslavism, they did need them for its national component. It quickly became apparent that the experiment with so-called integral Yugoslavism would be a task even more daunting than it was for interwar Romania.20

  • 21 Cited in L. Marković, Jugoslovenska država i hrvatsko pitanje (Belgrade, 1935), 347.

21Lazar Marković, leader of one of the many factions in the suppressed Radical Party, justified the king’s decision to foreign representatives: “The reason for the abrogation of the people’s will by the act of 6 January, lies in the fact that, at a certain moment, the people proved to be incapable of expressing a common will, one which would have enough strength and authority to emerge as the true people’s will. This weakness forced the king to undertake extraordinary measures in order to protect the highest interests of our whole people—Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. The coup was sudden and strong, but its makers expect a beneficial outcome for the people.”21

  • 22 V. Jonić, “Jugoslovensko misionarstvo,” in V. Novak, ed., Antologija jugoslovenske misli i narodno (...)

22The king’s coup would lead, among other things, to a total collapse of Serb political life. The dictatorship shut down parliamentary life and the activities of the established political parties. Furthermore, more and more publicly active interwar intellectuals withdrew from politics. Although the ebb of independent thought was felt throughout the entire country, Serbia in particular withdrew into total silence. At the same time, an array of “nonentities” appointed to higher public office kept parroting the official proclamations about state and national unity and about a single Yugoslav nationality. The stage was also set for those who had not been able, during the preceding decade, to convince their fellow intellectuals that Yugoslavism meant more than the idea of the state itself. Velibor Jonić, whom contemporaries perceived as one of those “rightists impressed by the sheer power of the state,” wrote passionately about the special mission imposed on the Yugoslavs by their destiny, which strongly resembled the rhetoric spreading across the European right: “ … The first question we must ask is: are we, as Yugoslavs, today a historical people or not? Do we have a universal purpose? … Centuries of suffering, victimization and humiliation, which we Croats, Serbs and Slovenes have endured, have not been in vain. All of this was part of the long, difficult and fundamental preparation. However, all this has ended with the day of unification. … Therefore, our destiny is in our own hands. It will be such as we make it. The opportunities before us, however, are great. … Yugoslavism and its fulfillment have to be our ideal. That ideal is here, it is set. He who embraces it, he will live in bliss.”22

  • 23 V. Ćorović, Istorija Jugoslavije (Belgrade, 1933), 1.

23Likewise, some Serb historians offered their “good offices” to explain for the governing clique the spontaneous nature of Yugoslav national integration. The well-regarded Vladimir Ćorović paid tribute to the official ideology in his monumental History of Yugoslavia. “Yugoslavia, as a statepolitical term, is quite a new phenomenon … However, the Yugoslav ideology which led to the Yugoslav state is not of recent origin. When the history of the South Slavs is approached broadly, when you observe the history of peoples instead of the history of states, it is evident that in our national life political boundaries did not mean real divides between the tribes.” Ćorović continues, “There have been so many close relationships and common actions which tell us that among the people there has always been a certain consciousness of a community; or, it tells us that farsighted minds have always relied on it.”23

  • 24 M. Dimitrijević, Tri govora u Narodnoj skupštini (Belgrade, 1932), 13–16.
  • 25 Jovan Dučić (1871–1943) is one of the most distinguished Serb poets. Born in Herzegovina, by the e (...)
  • 26 Dučić, who was already viewed by some as an ardent Serb nationalist at the time of writing this “h (...)

24When the dictatorship entered its third year, however, it became clear that the concept had been far from successful. First of all, it could not improve the economic viability of the state. The timing could not have been worse given the world economic crisis which hit Yugoslavia with full force in 1931. Furthermore, the lack of popular support and obvious reluctance of even Serb intellectuals forced the king to reduce somewhat the rigors of his dictatorship. In 1931, the regime claimed to pull away from its autocratic framework and return to constitutionalism. The new constitution was “given to the people” by the king, but the return to parliamentary life proved to be only nominal. The new parliament and the newly established senate consisted of appointed rather than elected deputies. One of them claimed that with the advent of dictatorship, “… instead of the former romanticism, a wholly new period began, a period of realism in our country which was opened and carried out by our king.”24 And yet, nothing was further from the truth. Document 3, in which Jovan Dučić25 poetically celebrates the new name of the state and supposedly long-awaited national integration, reveals how utopian indeed was the concept of integral Yugoslavism.26

  • 27 B. Petranović and M. Zečević, eds., Jugoslovenski federalizam—ideje i stvarnost: Tematska zbirka d (...)

25At the same time—supranational exhortations and economic troubles aside—Aleksandar’s regime did enough to keep state sovereignty intact during the restless 1930s. Therefore, even those Serbs who raised their voices against the regime did not attack its principles, but only its authoritarian practices. The fact that state unity was indeed preserved, albeit by dictatorial methods, rendered the Serb opposition incapable of making an unconditional alliance with various national-based resistance movements in the country. Thus, while angry Croat leaders were writing memoranda to influential foreign statesmen, asking for protection from the “terror of the Serb king,” even their greatest Serb ally, then émigré Svetozar Pribićević, would object to Croat initiatives that bordered on separatism and the resolution of the so-called Croat question outside the framework of Yugoslavia.27

  • 28 On the radicalization of the youth movements see Sandra Prlenda’s chapter in this volume; also, N. (...)

26Ultimately, the dictatorship fulfilled almost none of its stated goals, but shifted the political spectrum onto somewhat different lines from the first interwar decade. The dictatorship radicalized Croat nationalism. More broadly, it became apparent that Yugoslavism—both as a state and national ideology—was losing support outside the Serb political body. Also, the public presentation of integral Yugoslavism accelerated its demise. Numerous state-invented organizations with “Yugoslav” designations—which were overly intolerant toward non-state-sponsored groupings, particularly the “tribal” ones—represented the stronghold of Aleksandar’s policy and contributed to the overall radicalization of Yugoslav society.28

  • 29 True, the Croat political front would remain divided, but the Croatian Peasant Party became so dom (...)

27While the Croat opposition grew more cohesive and stronger,29 Serb parties grew weaker and more disorganized. In essence, the dictatorship reopened the Serb question as well. Yet the fact that the former Serbian, now Yugoslav crown undertook the project of national and state integration furthered the very tenuous identification of Serb national ideology with this new integral Yugoslavism. Although the “non-Serbs” often perceived the king’s rule as Serb absolutism and terror, his dictatorship was not intentionally undertaken with a Serb agenda—his was to be an authentically pan-Yugoslav program. It attempted to dissolve all separate “tribal” national bodies, including the Serb body, and to melt them, as quickly as possible, in a new supranational pot. Undoubtedly, the dictatorship made Yugoslavism— if not Yugoslavia itself—into a virtual reality. Although dissenting voices were suppressed, restlessness was already detectable during the early 1930s. After 1934, the mounting discontent would soon boil over.

The King is Dead—Shift Towards National Exclusiveness

  • 30 Milan Stojadinović (1888–1963) was one of the leading political figures of interwar Yugoslavia. In (...)

28In October 1934, King Aleksandar, arguably the foremost Yugoslav of the interwar era, was assassinated by a joint action of Croat and Macedonian terrorists on the streets of Marseilles. His death would be followed by a period of royal regency which would last until the end of the first Yugoslavia in 1941. During this period, the tenets of Aleksandar’s Yugoslavism were only nominally kept intact. Under the 1935–1939 regime of Premier Milan Stojadinović,30 it became clear that the relationship between Yugoslavia and Yugoslavism changed significantly.

29Stojadinović often referred to his time in office as the era of “real Yugoslavism.” As shown in Document 4, the program of his newly founded and state-sponsored Yugoslav Radical Union acknowledged the existence of the worrisome national question. It clearly recognized the division within the country and promises a “high degree of self-rule,” although retaining, at least formally, the concept of state and national unity. But, in the same document, as well as in the prevalent political discourse of the time, the late king’s program of integral Yugoslavism was criticized for leaving “the unresolved Croat question” as its legacy. The Croatian Peasant Party pressures for autonomous rights would make the appearance of exclusively Serb pressures, as a belated reaction, only a matter of time.

  • 31 D. Minović, “Pravni poredak, i narodno jedinstvo,” Nova Evropa 28, no. 9 (1935): 301–302.

30R. W. Seton-Watson characterized this period as a “dictatorship without a dictator.” The announced “political ideal” of regional self-rule was not followed by the necessary legislative and constitutional changes. However, Stojadinović would bring into political life an element which had previously been painfully absent—economic reform. His was the most ambitious program for industrial modernization of the interwar era. Dragomir Minović, a banker from Serbia, emphasized the importance of economy to further state and national integration. He identified the rationale behind Stojadinović’s pan-Yugoslav program: “The ethnic element does not suffice to preserve the union—neither we, Yugoslavs in the narrow sense, even less all the South Slavs. It has to be combined with another important factor— the economy—which can hold us together. … Once the rule of law is established and strengthened, and once the awareness of the common economic interests regains and strengthens national oneness, the feeling for the state, i.e. the feeling of the need for union, will come by itself and develop according to the fulfillment of people’s expectations. Only then will Yugoslavia become what it should be for all of us: our common house.”31

  • 32 Interpelacija na gospodina Pretsednika Ministarskog saveta, Archive of Yugoslavia, holding fund 74 (...)

31This “real Yugoslavism” of Stojadinović provided just a temporary respite in the decline of the Yugoslav national concept. The very first declaration of his government acknowledged national divisions and prompted a group of “integral Yugoslavs” to leave Stojadinović’s party. It was obvious that their concept of Yugoslavism had lost its primacy. Members of the former state party (Yugoslav National Party), which was now in serious disarray, attacked the Yugoslav Radical Union for betraying integral Yugoslavism. They perceived Stojadinović’s alliance with political parties which predominated in the 1920s as a return to the “tribal politics” which had brought so much trouble to the country before 1929.32

  • 33 Cited in M. Crnjanski, Politički spisi (Belgrade, 1989), 63–66.

32The Serb question was also looming on the horizon. Miloš Crnjanski, one of the most provocative Serb writers, launched a new journal in the mid-1930s which flirted with then fashionable European right-wing ideologies. Despite advocating unconditional adherence to the late king’s political principles, Crnjanski would in time turn toward Serb exclusiveness. In one of his articles, he bitterly stated that “… everything that was Serbian has been briskly erased, while the respected other side operates with things such as autonomy, separatism, and demands,” and concluded that the Serbs “…should make the same demands! … While on one side every problem is advanced through the prism of Slovenism and Croatism, on the other side it is forbidden to view the same thing through the Serbian position. That is not fair. … I may be the only one today, but I am convinced that there will soon be a million of us who will say that everything is nice and pretty, and good for them, but—let us be rid of this nonsense. Let’s see how things look as purely Serbian interests.”33

The Desperate End—the Collapse of Pan-Yugoslav Nationalism

33Integral Yugoslavism had already proven bankrupt as a national identity by the mid-1930s; and the looser pan-Yugoslav multinational ideology of Stojadinović would suffer a total collapse in the final years of the Kingdom. The internal divisions became deeper than ever, and only the adherence to the Yugoslav state framework would keep the Serb political body together.

34Although anti-government forces had assumed the leading role in seeking an accord between Serbs and Croats throughout the 1930s, formal agreement would eventually be reached between the Belgrade government and Croatian representatives in 1939. Once this agreement afforded an enlarged Croatian banovina (province) some attributes of separate statehood within Yugoslavia, a substantial part of the Serb elite began to panic. Their established adherence to the Yugoslav state was now joined by an ardent Serb nationalism. This uneasy combination represented the last refuge of their interwar Yugoslavism.

35Within the Serb political scene, the formation of the Croatian banovina was widely perceived as the single most harmful act in the short history of Yugoslavia. The 1939 agreement, concluded after the ousting of Stojadinović, made Yugoslavia into something between a federation and confederation. At that time, there were few who had not realized that the unitary conception was no longer possible. Yet the new restructuring sought to secure the survival of the Yugoslav multinational framework only by the resolution of the Croat national question. Whereas that question had been politically prominent since 1918, the final two interwar years witnessed the heated discussions of the newly reopened Serb question.

36The uncertain new structure of the state, looming external danger, and still more demands from the Croatian side, greatly alarmed the Serb elite. Even on the eve of the approaching collapse, however, the dominant stream in Serb political thought would turn to yet another idea of Yugoslavism— this time as a pure state concept. As discussions on how to save the state from dissolution continued, the very principle of the preservation of Yugoslavia remained indisputable.

  • 34 See Lj. Dimić, Kulturna politika u Kraljevini Jugoslaviji 1918–1941 (Belgrade, 1996), 506–61.
  • 35 As a reaction to the creation of the Croatian banovina, for the first time calls for the creation (...)
  • 36 Slobodan Jovanović (1869–1958) was an eminent jurist, historian, literary critic, and politician. (...)
  • 37 See Aleksandar Pavković, Slobodan Jovanov: An Unsentimental Approach to Politics (New York, 1993 (...)

37The only attempt at creating a wider and better organized Serb movement was the founding of the Serb Cultural Club, which would briefly progress from a cultural to a purely political institution. The Club assembled a number of members of the Serb political, intellectual, and financial elite and attempted an all-encompassing Serb national program.34 Such a program seemed imperative after the creation of the Croatian banovina. For the first time on a large scale, many prominent figures, mainly from Belgrade, spoke of the need for Serb national mobilization and the formation of a Serb unit within newly restructured Yugoslavia.35 Nevertheless, most of these elite members would remain loyal to the Yugoslav framework. Document 5 provides a full exposition of this late Serb Yugoslavism from Slobodan Jovanović,36 who headed the Club and was widely perceived as the “hidden hand” behind Serbian political and intellectual thought. Jovanović’s “unsentimental approach to politics”37 tied the Serb national question closely to the Yugoslav state, but also to the Croat question.

  • 38 V. Čorović, “Pitanje preuredjenja države,” in “Jako srpstvo—jaka Jugoslavija. Izbor članaka iz “Sr (...)

38The article by Jovanović was one of many that appeared in the Club’s journal Srpski glas (Serb Voice) seeking to address the thorny Serb question. The aforementioned Vladimir Ćorović, who only a few years before had acted almost as an official state historian, now wrote that “… from 1918 until today, the centralistic regime, with its immature—and often unconscientious and arbitrary—bureaucracy, has compromised the idea of national oneness …” He further claimed that the Croats, who had once been the champions of Yugoslav ideology, began to work against national oneness and Yugoslavism “… when it became clear that Belgrade, instead of Zagreb, would become the center of the Yugoslav action. They began identifying Yugoslavism with Great Serbianism and developed an integral Croat nationalism. They exaggerated the danger of the idea of national oneness and imposed their own doctrine on many Serbs.” Appalled by the 1939 agreement, Čorović concludes: “To us, the state structure is not as important as the spirit which governs that state.”38

  • 39 S. Drašković, “Današnji položaj i zadaci Srba,” in Ćorović, Jako srpstvo, 125–28.

39Some articles from Srpski glas proceeded to the still greater anxiety that while Yugoslavs had not been created and would likely not be ever created, the Serbs’ own national identity had begun to dissolve. This sentiment grew stronger when it became obvious that part of the Serb community—in the exaggerated form then perceived—began to question their Serb identity. This could have been a sign of the struggle for regional power and domination which could not but leave an imprint. It could also have been a consequence of the loosening of the Yugoslav concept which, as a result, left many alternative avenues open. “When we enter a debate over Serbdom throughout Yugoslavia,” wrote Slobodan Drašković, then a young university professor, “we are quick to doubt ourselves, to renounce everything, to discuss everything humbly. We even permit the discussion of whether the Vojvodina Serbs are the same as Serbs from Serbia, or whether Bosnians, Herzegovians, or Montenegrins are Serbs! If this continues, soon we will agree to discussions on whether Serbs exist at all, so that in the end we will manage to renounce even ourselves!”39

  • 40 B. Kaludjerčić, Zašto smo protiv granice na Drini i protiv cepanja Bosne i Hercegovine, AJ, holdin (...)
  • 41 M. Milošević, Otvoreno pismo gospodinu Slobodanu Jovanoviću: O njegovoj odgovornosti za defetizam (...)

40Among the Serbs, the last interwar years would bring about further reassessment of their position in the Yugoslav context. Part of the Serb community reckoned that Serb national identity had consistently been overshadowed by Yugoslavism and suffered for it in the process. Slogans like “Serbs, rally together!” were mushrooming up by the end of the 1930s. Higher Serb officials from Bosnia warned of the grave dangers awaiting the Serbs if they failed to close ranks as soon as possible.40 Still, this idea of an exclusively Serb mobilization also had numerous opponents in Serb public opinion. Some staunch supporters of Yugoslavia as it existed claimed that a strong state concept could not be built without relying on a strong national concept involving solidarity among all the peoples of Yugoslavia. Belgrade journalist Miloš Milošević severely criticized those from the Serb Cultural Club who advocated an end to cooperation with the Croats since that was the only proper way of providing for Yugoslavia’s survival. While holding Jovanović responsible for not acting resolutely many years before against the royal dictatorship, he was harder on the other rhetoric coming from the Srpski glas. “One might think”, wrote Milošević, that “… instead of sowing, reaping, working, or even breathing, the Serbs have always and only been guarding the state,” and proposed including most of the Srpski glas articles in a “pocket encyclopedia of idiocy.”41

  • 42 Cited from Dimitrije Ljotić u revoluciji i ratu (Munich, 1961), 164–67.

41Sharp criticism of this “closing of Serb ranks” also came from Dimitrije Ljotić, the leader of perhaps the only proto-fascist movement in Serbia. Ljotić acknowledged the absence of a common Serb front, but objected to these calls for Serb separatism. He wrote: “Where can you find a greater Serb unit than within Yugoslavia, which generations prior had made for the Serbs, just as much as for the Croats and Slovenes? We were never against such an association, but there has to be something else, for not only Serbs, but also for Croats and Slovenes, to which Yugoslavia means just as much as to the Serbs, must. …”42

  • 43 Ć. [M. Ćurčin], “‘Srbi na okup!’”, Nova Evropa 33, no. 5 (1940): 129–35.

42Likewise, the wave of Serb exclusiveness ran into opposition among the old “Yugoslav” guard. The long-time “Yugoslav” from Zagreb and editorin-chief of Nova Evropa, Milan Čurčin, whose journal was rapidly losing influence just because it had preserved its traditional multi-ethnic Yugoslav orientation, reacted to this new separatism with despair. Lamentation over the apparent death of Yugoslav nationalism and disgust with “tribal” nationalisms dominate his last prewar articles. “It is hard to believe that ever, in the history of our people, was there more wrongful and sinful a watchword than this [“Serbs, rally together!”], which Belgrade attempts to spread amongst Serbs,” wrote Ćurčin. “This is perhaps the most humiliating testimony of the political lunacy of the current Serb intelligentsia and the incompetence and powerlessness of Serbian politicians. … In theory, who can determine the difference between Serbs and Croats; … who will separate them one from the other, and where should the borders be erected?” asked Ćurčin.43

43Thus, by the early 1940s, intra-Serb disputes about their “national space” were almost bigger than those between Serbs and Croats. Whereas Yugoslavism undoubtedly solidified the Croat national movement as a reaction against it, it confused and deadlocked any separate Serb mobilization. No wonder therefore that the Second World War would find the Serb elite in disarray, incapable of implementing any serious national program, including the most important one in their perception—preserving the Yugoslav state at a time when stronger and more integrated states would be falling like dominoes.

Epilogue—Interwar Serb Elites and Yugoslavism

44The preceding inquiry shows that, in the last years of the Kingdom, the adherence of the Serb elite to the Yugoslav state framework seems to have been the only remaining basis of their Yugoslavism. In fact, most of them had already realized during the 1920s that national oneness had not been achieved, but they continued to perceive Yugoslavism as a viable, or at a minimum, a necessary state concept. It seems, however, that the ideological vacuum was not sufficiently filled. The pre-1918 unification ideology had the luxury of being loosely defined. It spoke of future prospects in general terms, of a “dream” perceived as the final step and main goal of Serb nationalism. However, interwar Yugoslavism represented adaptation by the heterogeneous Serb political body to real-life circumstances; it had to react to the existing context of the Yugoslav state. Their incessant ideological wavering reveals that the interwar Serb elites could not come up with an appropriate way to transfer their former primary principle of unification into a stable and viable political doctrine.

45On the one hand, there was the problem of national identity. The Yugoslav component sometimes led leading Serbs to believe that a genuine transformation of their nationhood was under way. However, the identification of Serbdom with Yugoslavdom ran into serious obstacles. Not only did they themselves constantly challenge the national aspect of Yugoslavism; there was also Serb discontent with the evident lack of adherence to Yugoslavism among non-Serbs. The previously recognized peoples of Yugoslavia—Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes—had long fostered their separate identities, albeit not always with clear-cut notions. Even if we assume that a new multi-ethnic Yugoslav identity was as achievable as any other, that process would have required a longer, much better organized and more systematic process of “imagination” and “invention.”

  • 44 Interestingly enough, as Dejan Jović discusses in the next chapter, following the radical ideologi (...)

46On the other hand, there was the traditional allegiance of Serbs to their national state. What actually replaced the former drive towards pan-Serb unification was the idea of a large metaphorical hat under which all Serbs were covered. The “hat” was the Yugoslav Kingdom which, it seemed to Serb elites, would offer better prospects for preserving the Serb nation than any other likely framework. Thus Yugoslavism, although admittedly suspect as an ethnic national concept, would remain consistent as a state concept in Serb political thought. It also advanced, more often than not, the need for a large and strong state, which deemed it attractive for a part of the non-Serb population as well.44 However, as the previous ideology of Serb unification was never thoroughly conceptualized, the concept of the state as an end in itself was also ill-defined.

47Although deeply divided by the end of the interwar period, Serb leaders remained agreed only on the need to work out their own national identity within a state that was still called Yugoslavia. As seen in Document 5, Slobodan Jovanović made the best case for this last recourse of interwar Serb Yugoslavism by stating that “… neither Serb nor Croat nationalisms can show us the right way if they are not tied to the Yugoslav state idea. Nor does the Yugoslav state idea have any vitality if separated from Croat and Serb nationalisms.” While Serbdom and Yugoslavdom definitely parted ways, Serbia and Yugoslavia became inseparable.

Sources

Document 1:

48… The Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes are one and the same people by origin and by language. The Serbs and Croats are totally identical, while the differences between them and the Slovenes are quite insignificant. Although historical development, from the twelfth century on, has separated the Serbs from the Croats, forcing them to go their separate ways under different influences, and although they were, especially in the recent times, artificially alienated, the Serb and Croat peoples have nevertheless been conscious of the fact that they constitute a single people, have the same interests, and depend on each other. All the clashes, quarrels, and battles between the Serbs and Croats have always ended with the belief in national oneness and with the idea that the Serbs and Croats need to be one whole.

49… We want all the Serb, Croat, and Slovene peoples, who have the same origin, language, and mentality, to be united in a single state, for that is the only way we can contribute—as members of the larger international community and in accordance with our capabilities—to the strengthening of the universal human, intellectual, and material culture. The unification of our people in a single state is not our goal. The unification of Serbdom is only a means which would enable the Serb people to work—faster, easier, and better—on the fulfilling of the great ideals of all humanity: all people and all peoples should be free, healthy, enlightened, financially secure, and—if possible at all— happy and pleased.

50Source: Stanoje Stanojević, Šta hoće Srbija? [What Does Serbia Want?] (Niš, 1915), 21–27.

Document 2:

51Following the centuries-long battle and slavery, due to a fortunate conjuncture of events in world affairs as well as the huge efforts and sacrifices of our people—especially the Serbs from Serbia—the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes have cast off the shackles of slavery and become free. Now, it’s up to us to build the structure of our free and independent state … Do the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes want to live in a single state union, in a single simple state? I trust that every reasonable Serb, Croat, or Slovene would reply in the affirmative. Everyone with common sense must seek the construction of a single state since, if for no other reason, it comes out of our natural instinct for self-preservation.

52If we were united, we would be stronger and able to keep our free-dom …

53However, from the time they moved to these areas, the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes have never been together in a single state. Nor have the Serbs themselves been united in a single state … During many centuries, they have lived either in independence or slavery and developed—under the influence of various cultures and faiths—different mentalities, different worldviews, and, to some extent, different national ideals … No doubt that our living together in a state of our own will bring us closer to each other … Will that lead to a total and pure national oneness? Let time decide that. For our part, we must look to that which connects us and not to that which sets us apart.

54But we should bear in mind one thing—when part of a certain people develops a consciousness about its individuality, when it develops its own culture, intelligentsia, and literature, this is not likely to be forgotten or abandoned. Thus, we should take this into account especially now when we are laying the basis of our governmental structure. Our state will be strong and stable only if it is based on reality. If we build it on wrong premises, either consciously or unconsciously, then we shall live in constant friction with each other. That will arrest our economic and cultural development which is so crucial for us since we lag behind other nations.

55Source: Ljuba Stojanović, Nekolike misli o našem novom državnom uredjenju [Some Thoughts on Our New State Structure] (Belgrade, 1919), 11–14.

Document 3:

56We have turned over a new leaf and found ourselves on a new page of history … One blood and one country! One destiny and one life formula! One fatherland and one patriotism! One future and one duty! One language and one national culture! One tradition and one history! Or, in a short and splendid definition: One history and one state! That’s the new and powerful energy which has been given the name Yugoslavia … This could not have happened ten years ago when we had a country with internal borders which caused doubts and ambiguities, borders which were unscientific, illogical, and not created by our people but by the circumstances and by our historical enemies. The old name of the country emphasized the differences between the three tribes and not the sameness of the people’s blood and ideals … Serbia, as always, had the courage to start with herself. Never have her sacrifices been bigger or higher. By doing so, she has abandoned neither her past nor her glory; she has only changed her state name into a name which is better suited for the development of her history and ideals. Today, the powerful name of Yugoslavia is a synthesis of all those innumerable evidences which point to the one and only direction of our national energies. This time, the idea of nation and state has risen above people’s instincts and passions. If Serbia ceased to be one big province within the state, one that used to be shaped only by circumstances, that’s because the nation has now become wider than her borders!

57Source: Jovan Dučić, “Reč Jugoslavija” [The Word Yugoslavia], Politika, 30 October, 1929; in J. Dučić, Sabrana dela, vol. IV (Belgrade–Sarajevo, 1989), 609–12.

Document 4:

58… The Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes need to build the internal structure of their own house together and in good faith. In that regard many errors have been made on all sides. Until now, we have suffered the most from the “integral” patriots, who proclaimed themselves the sole guardians of Yugoslavia and the sole fighters for state and national unity … From 1932 until eleven months ago, the people from the Yugoslav National Party governed this state … What did those gentlemen leave us as their legacy? Among many other failures, they have bequeathed us the unresolved Croat question.

59… Our program stresses the principle of a high degree of self-rule. That is our political ideal … We are for the respect of the three names of our people: Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. We are for the respect of their equality and their traditions. We want to arrange the structure of government with respect to the people’s wishes and needs. At the same time, we leave it to the individual regions to arrange their own administrative, economic, financial, and social needs, granted that those arrangements are not contrary to the state’s, that is, contrary to the state goals and needs.

60Source: Milan Stojadinović, “Program Jugoslovenske Radikalne Zajednice” [Program of the Yugoslav Radical Union], Novosti, 2 July 1936; cited from F. Čulinović, ed., Dokumenti o Jugoslaviji: Historijat od osnutka zajedničke države do danas (Zagreb, 1968), 331–32.

Document 5:

61…Yugoslavism was a product of a national calamity; there was much more political realism in it than people usually think today. Let us remember the circumstances on the eve of the world war in which the Croats and Serbs respectively found themselves. The Croats were afraid that their hard-fought autonomy could not be protected from the systematic attacks by the Hungarian government … The Serbs under King Peter I realized that they could not extend their borders in any direction … As the Croats were facing a life-and-death struggle against the Hungarians, in the same way the Serbs were facing a life-and-death struggle with the Habsburg Monarchy; and as the Croats deemed help from the Serb brethren precious, so the Serbs badly needed help from the Croats. Yugoslav thought was nothing but an awareness of the need for political cooperation between the Serbs and Croats.

62…Were the circumstances after the war changed in such a way as to allow the Serbs and Croats to part ways? Are they now sure they can make it on their own, one without the other? … Serbia would lose the bigger and more important part of the Adriatic coast … She would, more or less, become something she used to be before the world war—the only landlocked state in the Balkans … Nor would the position of the Croats be less difficult. An independent Croatia, even if it encompasses all of today’s Croatian banovina, would belong to the rank of smaller states. We live in a time which is un-favorable even to middle-sized states, let alone smaller states … Therefore, it is clear that the same reasons which propelled the Serbs and Croats to strive towards unification before the world war, are still valid today. If the circumstances have changed at all, they have not changed for better but for worse …

63The question is not whether the Serbs and Croats want to stick together, but whether they have to stick together … Yugoslavism as a national idea ran into obstacles and was opposed by Serb as well as Croat nationalisms. However, this does not mean that Yugoslavism as a state idea has to run into trouble … Neither Serb nor Croat nationalisms can show us the right way if they are not tied to the Yugoslav state idea. Nor does the Yugoslav state idea have any vitality if separated from Croat and Serb nationalisms.”

64Source: Slobodan Jovanović, “Jugoslovenska misao u prošlosti i budućnosti” [Yugoslav Thought in the Past and Future] (lecture given at the Serb Cultural Club on 4 December 1939); cited from S. Jovanović, Sabrana dela, vol. 11 (Belgrade, 1991), 567–75.

Notes

1 1) Except for some widely accepted Anglicized forms, names in this article have been rendered in their original spelling; 2) “Serbian” (noun and adjective) refers to Serbia proper, that is, pre-1912 Serbia (its territory and inhabitants) as well as the language of Serbs, while “Serb” refers to all Serbs, regardless of territory; 3) all translations in this article are made by Robert Momich and the author (italics in translations are used only if found in the original texts).

2 The cultural component of Yugoslavism, which was most prominent during the pre-Yugoslav era in the form of so-called cultural Yugoslavism, would lose its separate standing after 1918. While interwar intellectuals almost never stopped contemplating a unified Yugoslav culture, their visions became ever more inseparable from the dynamics of national and state structuring of Yugoslavia. Thus, all the endeavors intended as strictly cultural expressions of Yugoslavism were hardly ever free from its other two, national and state, components. On cultural Yugoslavism see Andrew Baruch Wachtel, Making a Nation, Breaking a Nation: Literature and Cultural Politics in Yugoslavia (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998).

3 In F. Čulinović, ed., Dokumenti o Jugoslaviji: Historijat od osnutka zajedničke države do danas (Zagreb, 1968), 298.

4 See Ivo Lederer, “Nationalism and the Yugoslavs”, in Peter Sugar and Ivo Lederer, eds., Nationalism in Eastern Europe (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1969), 403–8; also Stevan K. Pavlowitch, Serbia: The History behind the Name (London: C. Hurst & Co, 2002), 26–64.

5 See John Lampe, Yugoslavia as History: Twice There was a Country (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 81–87; also Gale Stokes, Politics as Development: The Emergence of Political Parties in Nineteenth-century Serbia (Durham: Duke University Press, 1990).

6 Much has been written in this respect on Ilija Garašanin’s “Načertanije” of 1844; however, it would be too much to view this document as a “Yugoslav” program; see D. Bataković, “Ilija Garašanin’s Načertanije: A Reassessment,” Balcanica, vol. XV–1 (Belgrade, 1994): 157–83.

7 See D. Janković, Srbija i jugoslovensko pitanje 1914–1915. godine (Belgrade, 1973).

8 Stanoje Stanojević (1874–1937) was a prominent historian, professor at the Bel-grade University and member of the Serbian Royal Academy. He was the editor-in-chief of the Serbo-Croato-Slovene People’s Encyclopedia (1924–1929) and founded the Yugoslav Historical Journal (1935). His works include A History of the Serb People (1908). He participated in the work of the Yugoslav delegation at the Paris Peace Conference.

9 9 Certainly, the prospects of interwar Yugoslav political dynamics were not dependent solely on the outlook of the Serb elites, but their inconsistent attitude towards the structure of the would-be state contributed a lot to later difficulties.

10 Nikola Pašić (1844–1926) was a primary founder of the Serbian Radical Party and prime minister of Serbia 1908–1918 and of the postwar Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes from 1921 to 1926.

11 In Dj. Stanković, Nikola Pašić i Hrvati (1918–1923) (Belgrade, 1995), 407–08.

12 See Lj. Dimić, Istorija srpske državnosti: Srbija u Jugoslaviji (Novi Sad, 2001).

13 Certainly, “national oneness” was not an exclusively Serb formula. Aside from being accepted as a true belief among many, the formula was also quite convenient for Yugoslav foreign policy and, as such, readily welcomed by the Serbs and non-Serbs alike. Having a common national front vis-à-vis the neighboring states proved to be a very important pillar of the new state not only during the postwar border delineation, but throughout the interwar period when, as Slobodan Jovanović put it, “nationalism was liberalism in foreign affairs.”

14 On state structuring during the first years of Yugoslavia see Ivo Banac, The National Question in Yugoslavia: Origins, History, Politics (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992).

15 The “amputation” of “non-Serb lands” gained some prominence as a possibility in the early 1920s; the issue would be raised again in 1928 by King Aleksandar himself but it would be too much to view this move as anything but an additional method of putting pressure onto the quarrelling political parties.

16 Ljubomir Stojanović (1860–1930) was a well-known historian and linguist. Like Stanojević, Stojanović was a university professor and Serbian Royal Academy member who industriously collected and published sources for Serbian history. In the Kingdom of Serbia he was a member of the Radical Party and, later on, the Independent Radical Party, and served as a prime minister, minister of education, and minister of interior. After the First World War, he was a founder of the Yugoslav Republican Party.

17 Ž. Spasojević, “Savremeno pravo i država,” in Jugoslovenska demokratska liga, (Geneva, 1919), VI.

18 Lj. Stojanović, “Još o ‘Srpskom pitanju,’” Nova Evropa 12, no. 14 (1925): 413.

19 Cited in F. Čulinović, ed., Dokumenti, 291–92.

20 See Constantin Iordachi’s chapter in this volume.

21 Cited in L. Marković, Jugoslovenska država i hrvatsko pitanje (Belgrade, 1935), 347.

22 V. Jonić, “Jugoslovensko misionarstvo,” in V. Novak, ed., Antologija jugoslovenske misli i narodnog jedinstva, 1390–1930 (Belgrade, 1930), 882–83; in 1941, Jonić would become a commissar in the German-imposed wartime government in Serbia.

23 V. Ćorović, Istorija Jugoslavije (Belgrade, 1933), 1.

24 M. Dimitrijević, Tri govora u Narodnoj skupštini (Belgrade, 1932), 13–16.

25 Jovan Dučić (1871–1943) is one of the most distinguished Serb poets. Born in Herzegovina, by the end of the nineteenth century he was a member of a prominent Serb literary circle. In 1907 he entered the ministry of foreign affairs of the Kingdom of Serbia. From 1910 on, he would occupy various posts in both the Serbian and Yugoslav diplomatic service. He served as Yugoslav ambassador to Budapest, Rome, and Madrid.

26 Dučić, who was already viewed by some as an ardent Serb nationalist at the time of writing this “hymn to Yugoslavia,” would, in 1941, turn to Serb exclusivism; reacting bitterly to the crimes committed against his co-nationals in the Independent State of Croatia, Dučić would write that the Serb people in 1918 had no idea that they would take such a huge obligation while getting nothing in return from the others: “Yugoslavism was a journey on a road with no end, it was madness and suicide.” Cited in J. Dučić, Verujem u Boga i u Srpstvo (Belgrade and Prishtina, 1996), 51.

27 B. Petranović and M. Zečević, eds., Jugoslovenski federalizam—ideje i stvarnost: Tematska zbirka dokumenata, vol. 1 (1914–1943) (Belgrade, 1987), 317–21.

28 On the radicalization of the youth movements see Sandra Prlenda’s chapter in this volume; also, N. Žutić, Sokoli: Ideologija u fizičkoj kulturi Kraljevine Jugoslavije 1929–1941 (Belgrade, 1991).

29 True, the Croat political front would remain divided, but the Croatian Peasant Party became so dominant that most of the Croat population gathered around this party. On these developments, see Mark Biondich’s chapter in this volume.

30 Milan Stojadinović (1888–1963) was one of the leading political figures of interwar Yugoslavia. In the 1920s, as a member of the Radical Party, he served as a minister of finance under several governments. In the 1930s he was a founder and president of the Yugoslav Radical Union. From 1935–1939 he was the prime minister and minister of foreign affairs and strengthened Yugoslavia’s economic and political dependence on Germany. In 1941 he was transferred to the British authorities who interned him on the island of Mauritius. After the Second World War he moved to Buenos Aires where he served as a financial advisor to the Argentinean government.

31 D. Minović, “Pravni poredak, i narodno jedinstvo,” Nova Evropa 28, no. 9 (1935): 301–302.

32 Interpelacija na gospodina Pretsednika Ministarskog saveta, Archive of Yugoslavia, holding fund 74, box 13, unit 24; the Yugoslav Radical Union was a coalition of the Slovene People’s Party, the Yugoslav Muslim Organization, and a part of the Radical Party.

33 Cited in M. Crnjanski, Politički spisi (Belgrade, 1989), 63–66.

34 See Lj. Dimić, Kulturna politika u Kraljevini Jugoslaviji 1918–1941 (Belgrade, 1996), 506–61.

35 As a reaction to the creation of the Croatian banovina, for the first time calls for the creation of a separate “Serb land” could be heard. There was one such project conceptualized by some prominent Serb jurists in 1940, which had for its aim the creation of one unified Serb unit centered in Skopje. Despite being presented for public debate there were no formal policies to this effect (see Petranović and Zečević, Federalizam, 569–70).

36 Slobodan Jovanović (1869–1958) was an eminent jurist, historian, literary critic, and politician. He was one of the most respected intellectuals in modern Serbian history. His outstanding scholarly work includes a voluminous and still unsurpassed political history of nineteenth-century Serbia. Later on, he would become the prime minister of the Yugoslav government-in-exile (1942–1943).

37 See Aleksandar Pavković, Slobodan Jovanov: An Unsentimental Approach to Politics (New York, 1993).

38 V. Čorović, “Pitanje preuredjenja države,” in “Jako srpstvo—jaka Jugoslavija. Izbor članaka iz “Srpskog glasa”, organa Srpskog kulturnog kluba, objavljenih 1939– 1940 (Belgrade, 1991), 13–15.

39 S. Drašković, “Današnji položaj i zadaci Srba,” in Ćorović, Jako srpstvo, 125–28.

40 B. Kaludjerčić, Zašto smo protiv granice na Drini i protiv cepanja Bosne i Hercegovine, AJ, holding fund 37, box 9, unit 48.

41 M. Milošević, Otvoreno pismo gospodinu Slobodanu Jovanoviću: O njegovoj odgovornosti za defetizam “Srpskog glasa,” (Belgrade, 1940).

42 Cited from Dimitrije Ljotić u revoluciji i ratu (Munich, 1961), 164–67.

43 Ć. [M. Ćurčin], “‘Srbi na okup!’”, Nova Evropa 33, no. 5 (1940): 129–35.

44 Interestingly enough, as Dejan Jović discusses in the next chapter, following the radical ideological transformation of society in Communist Yugoslavia, the “cult of the state” would be seriously challenged even among Serb Communists. That aside, the late 1980s witnessed yet another return to Yugoslavism as a state concept and the Serbs would once again become the only champions of it on the same old ideological basis— Yugoslavia was seen as the only possible framework to include “all Serbs.”

Auteur

Marko Bulatović is a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Toronto; his doctoral dissertation is a study of Yugoslavism in the inter­war Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

© Central European University Press, 2006

Conditions d’utilisation : http://www.openedition.org/6540