History of Bosnia and Herzegovina
from the origins to 1992

Mr. Thierry Domin
First published in
SFOR Informer#122, September 19, 2001

Chapter 6
From the end of WWII to 1992

Following World War II, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) was proclaimed. Because of its great losses during the war and to prevent future bloodshed, Tito gave Bosnia a constitution and the status as an independent republic within the Yugoslav State, defined by its historic existence. Tito also created Macedonia as a separate republic.
Tito was initially linked to Stalin, but he soon split in order to establish his own brand of socialism. "Titoism" gave him a leading role in the Cold War as the leader of Yugoslavia - a "non-aligned state". Tito established strict rules against the expression of "nationalism," and his unique brand of totalitarianism successfully kept the peace within Yugoslavia. Tito had killed many of his opponents after he secured victory in 1945, and throughout his leadership he imprisoned activists for nationalist movements (including Alija Izetbegovic and Radovan Karadzic).
Post-war Yugoslavia was a socialist state based on the Communist party, the Jugoslavija Narodna Armija (JNA), the Police (or militia) and the concept of workers' self-management. For 45 years, Tito's totalitarianism kept ethnic peace within Yugoslavia. The concept that he continually advocated was called "Brotherhood and Unity."
The Bosnian-Muslims
When the FRY was founded there had been only two recognized ethnic groups, Bosnian-Croats and Serbs. In 1968, the Bosnian-Muslims were also declared to be a distinct nation. A new constitution adopted in 1974 led to increased decentralization of governmental powers, giving the six federal states of the republic more political and economic independence, and giving Vojvodina and Kosovo autonomous status. Economic and political developments from 1974 to 1980 set the scene for the ruin of Yugoslavia and the beginning of new conflict in the Balkans.
Death of Tito...
On May 4, 1980, Tito died at age 88 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. After his death, there was increasing resentment of centralized government control. The state-run socialist economy continued to stagnate, as was the case in most of communist Eastern Europe. It was compounded by two facts: a return of the masses of Yugoslav guest-workers who returned home in the face of a depressed economy in Western Europe; and by the end of the favorable position Yugoslavia had held as a non-aligned nation between the US and USSR during the Cold War. Nationalist demands and calls for increased autonomy grew among the various ethnic groups of Yugoslavia. Deteriorating economic circumstances led to ethnic tensions, as nationalist politicians sought scapegoats to blame for the difficult economic times. Increasingly, there were fears by other groups of Serb domination in the region. In the spring of 1981 clashes occurred in Kosovo between the Serb administration and numerous Kosovo Albanians calling for status as the seventh republic, but not for independence. This situation led to bloody and violent demonstrations, which were severely suppressed by the police as well as by tanks of the Yugoslav National Army (JNA).
In February 1984, the city of Sarajevo successfully hosted the Winter Olympics - an international symbol of peace and tolerance. In May 1986, Slobodan Milosevic, a former manager of a gas company, became head of the communist party of Serbia and stressed Serbian ultra-nationalism. The 600th anniversary of the battle of Kosovo Polje on June 28, 1989 provided Milosevic with an opportunity to clearly state his support for the Serb nation, demonstrating pure Serbian chauvinism by claiming tighter control over Kosovo. In March 1989 the autonomous status of Vojvodina and Kosovo was annulled, and those regions, against their collective wills, again became integral parts of Serbia. The dismantling of Tito's multi-ethnic Yugoslavia was underway.
... and of a nation
In 1990 elections were held within Yugoslavia. Only in Montenegro and Serbia did the communist parties win, while nationalist parties came into power in the four other federal republics. The nationalist victories were in many ways a reaction against a fear of increasing Serb power. After the elections Croats and Slovenians abandoned the idea of a unified Yugoslavia, left the FRY, and were recognized by European countries as independent states. Franjo Tudjman, the new Croatian president promised the voters "a strong, democratic and independent Croatia within its historical borders." Serb President Milosevic stated that "in case of the ruin of Yugoslavia, the borders of Serbia must be redefined, because a future Serb state must include all areas where Serbs live."
Bosnia and Herzegovina followed the lead of Slovenia and Croatia, holding a referendum on independence on February 29 and March 1. The referendum was boycotted by many of Bosnian Serbs. When the results of the referendum were announced on March 2 and the peoples' desire for an independent Bosnia and Herzegovina was officially announced, Serb paramilitary set up positions around Sarajevo. On April 6 BiH was recognized as an independent state by the European Community, and Serb paramilitary forces fired on a crowd of peaceful demonstrators. Paramilitary forces had been bombing and shooting in towns throughout Bosnia in March and April. The siege of Sarajevo, as well as the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, had begun.
The peace will be signed in Paris more than three and half years later.

Table of Contents:

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5