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Kraljevina Jugoslavija
Краљевина Југославија
Kingdom of Yugoslavia¹

 

1918–1943
Flag Coat of arms
Motto
Cyrillic script: Један народ, један краљ, једна држава
Latin script: Jedan narod, jedan kralj, jedna država
Slovene: En narod, en kralj, ena država

"One Nation, one King, one Country"
Anthem
National Anthem of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia
Capital Belgrade
Language(s) Serbo-Croato-Slovene
Government Constitutional monarchy
(royal dictatorship: 1929-1934)
King
 - 1918–1921 Peter I of Yugoslavia
 - 1921–1934 Alexander I of Yugoslavia
 - 1934–1945 Peter II of Yugoslavia
Regent
 - 1934–1941 Prince Paul
Historical era Interwar period
 - Union 1 December 1918
 - Dictatorship 6 January 1929
 - Axis invasion April, 1941
 - Republic declared 29 November 1945
Area
 - 1921 247,542 km2 (95,577 sq mi)
Population
 - 1921 est. 11,984,911 
     Density 48.4 /km2  (125.4 /sq mi)
 - 1931 est. 13,934,038 
     Density 56.3 /km2  (145.8 /sq mi)
Currency Yugoslav krone (until 1920)
Yugoslav dinar (after 1920)
1The Kingdom was called Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes upon its formation on 1 December 1918. From 1929, under the 6 January dictatorship, the country was known as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia
2: The country was occupied by Axis powers in April 1941. However the legitimate royal government in exile was recognized and supported by Allied forces. In 1943, the new country called Democratic Federal Yugoslavia was proclaimed. The king was deposed by the constituent assembly on 2 December 1945.
3: Serbo-Croatian language and Slovene[1]

The Kingdom of Yugoslavia (Serbo-Croat and Slovene: Kraljevina Jugoslavija, Cyrillic script: Краљевина Југославија) was a kingdom stretching from the Western Balkans to Central Europe which existed during the often-tumultuous interwar era of 1918–1941. It was formed in 1918 when merging the provisional State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, formed on territories of defunct Austro-Hungarian Empire, with the formerly independent Kingdom of Serbia. The Kingdom of Montenegro had passed to Serbian rule days earlier, while the regions of Kosovo, Vojvodina and Macedonia were parts of Serbia prior to the unification. For its first eleven years of existence it was officially called Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, but the term Yugoslavia was its colloquial name from the very beginning. On 17 April 1941, Yugoslavia fell prey to Nazi occupation and was reorganised into four provinces under foreign rule; a royal government-in-exile, recognized by the United Kingdom and later by all the Allied powers, was established in London. In 1943, the new country called Democratic Federal Yugoslavia was proclaimed, and its capital was freed following the Belgrade Offensive. The King was formally deposed by the Constituent assembly on 29 November 1945.

Contents

Formation

Map showing Yugoslavia in 1919, in the aftermath of World War I before the treaties of Neuilly, Trianon and Rapallo (note that this map does not reflect any internationally established borders or armistice lines - it only reflect opinion of the researchers from London Geographical Institute about issue how final borders will look after Paris Peace Conference)

In 1916 the Serbian Parliament in exile decided on the creation of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia at a meeting inside the Municipal Theatre of Corfu.[2] The kingdom was formed on 1 December 1918 under the name "Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes" (Serbian: Краљевина Срба, Хрвата и Словенаца / Kraljevina Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca, Croatian: Kraljevina Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca, Slovene: Kraljevina Srbov, Hrvatov in Slovencev) or Kingdom of SHS (Краљевина СХС / Kraljevina SHS) for short.

On 1 December 1918 the new kingdom was proclaimed by Alexander Karađorđević, Prince-Regent for his father, Peter I of Serbia. The new Kingdom was made up of the formerly independent kingdoms of Serbia and Montenegro (which had unified in the previous month), as well as a substantial amount of territory that was formerly part of Austria–Hungary, the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs. The lands previously in Austria–Hungary that formed the new state included Croatia, Slavonia and Vojvodina from the Hungarian part of the Empire, Carniola, part of Styria and most of Dalmatia from the Austrian part, and the crown province of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The creation of the state was supported by Pan-Slav nationalists and Serbian nationalists. For the Pan-Slavic movement, all of the South Slav (Yugoslav) people had united into a single state and hoped that the peoples would unite as Slavs and abandon past differences. For Serbian nationalists, the desired goal of uniting the majority of the Serb people across the Balkans into one state was also achieved. Furthermore, as Serbia already had a government, military, and police force, it was the logical choice to form the nucleus of the Yugoslav state.

The Yugoslav kingdom bordered Italy and Austria to the northwest, Hungary and Romania to the north, Bulgaria to the east, Greece and Albania to the south, and the Adriatic Sea to the west. Almost immediately, it ran into disputes with all it's neighbors except Romania. Slovenia was difficult to determine, since it had been an integral part of Austria for 400 years. The Vojvodina region was disputed with Hungary, Macedonia with Bulgaria, Fiume and Trieste with Italy, and also the border with Greece, in essence a ceasefire line from the Balkan Wars. Finally, Yugoslavia claimed half of Albania for itself.

A plebiscite was also held in the Province of Carinthia, which opted to remain in Austria. Austrians had formed a majority in this region although numbers reflected that some Slovenes did vote for Carinthia to become part of Austria. The Dalmatian port city of Zadar (Italian: Zara) and a few of the Dalmatian islands were given to Italy. The city of Rijeka (Italian: Fiume) was declared to be the Free State of Fiume, but it was soon occupied, and in 1924 annexed, by Italy, which had also been promised the Dalmatian coast during World War I, and Yugoslavia claiming Istria, a part of the former Austrian Littoral which had been annexed to Italy, but which contained a considerable population of Croats and Slovenes.

The new government tried to integrate the new country politically as well as economically, a task made difficult because of the diversity of language (chiefly disagreements between Serbian and Croatian speakers over standardising Serbo-Croat); ethnicities, and religions in the new state; the different history of each region (characterised by centuries of subjugation by different rulers, eg. Venice, Hungary, Austria, Ottoman Empire etc), and differences in economic development among regions (a more developed north spanning Slovenia, northern Croatia and northern Serbia, than a poorer south which encompassed Dalmatia, Montenegro and southern Serbia).

Economics

Three quarters of the Yugoslav workforce was engaged in agriculture. A few farmers existed, but most were subsistence peasants. Those in the south were especially poor, living in a hilly, infertile region. No large estates existed except in the north, and all of those were owned by foreigners. Indeed, one of the first actions undertaken by the new Yugoslav state in 1919 was to break up the estates and dispose of foreign, and in particular Magyar, landowners.

Manufacturing was limited to Belgrade and the other major population centers, and consisted mainly of small, comparatively primitive facilities that produced strictly for the domestic market. The commercial potential of Yugoslavia's Mediterranean ports went to waste because the nation lacked the capital or technical knowledge to operate a shipping industry. On the other hand, the mining industry was well developed due to the nation's abundance of mineral resources, but since it was primarily owned and operated by foreigners, most production went to export.

Yugoslavia was typical of Eastern European nations in that it borrowed large sums of money from the West during the 1920s. When the Great Depression began in 1930, the Western lenders called in their debts, which could not be paid back. Some of the money was lost to graft, although most was used by farmers to improve production and export potential. Agricultural exports were always an unstable prospect, and the Depression caused the market for them to collapse as nations everywhere erected trade barriers. Italy was a major trading partner of Yugoslavia in the initial years after World War I, but ties fell off after Benito Mussolini came to power. In the grim economic situation of the 1930s, Yugoslavia followed the lead of its neighbors in allowing itself to become a dependent of Nazi Germany.

Early politics

Nikola Pašić, held the position of Prime Minister of Yugoslavia in a number of separate tenures.

Immediately after 1 December proclamation, negotiations between the People's Council (of the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs) and the Serbian government resulted in agreement over the new government which was to be headed by Nikola Pašić. However when this was submitted to the approval of the regent it was rejected, so producing the new state's first government crisis. All the parties regarded this as a violation of parliamentary principles but the crisis was resolved when they agreed to replace Pašić by Stojan Protić who was a leading member of Pašić's Radical Party. The new government came into existence on December 20, 1918.[3]

In this period before the election of the Constituent Assembly, a Provisional Representation served as a parliament which was formed by delegates from the various elected bodies that had existed before the creation of the state. A realignment of parties combining several members of the Serbian opposition with political parties from the former Austria–Hungary led to the creation of a new party, The Democratic Party, that dominated the Provisional Representation and the government.

Because the Democratic Party led by Ljubomir Davidović pushed a highly centralized agenda a number of Croatian delegates moved into opposition. However, the radicals themselves were not happy that they had only three ministers to the Democratic Party's 11 and, on 16 August 1919, Protić handed in his resignation. Davidović then formed a coalition with the Social Democrats. This government did have a majority but the quorum of the Provisional Representation was half plus one vote. The opposition then began to boycott the parliament and as the government could never guarantee that all their supporters to turn up it became impossible to hold a quorate meeting of the parliament. Davidović quickly resigned but as no one else could form a government he again became prime minister. As the opposition continued their boycott the government decided it had no alternative but to rule by decree. This was denounced by the opposition who began to style themselves as the Paliamentary Community. Davidović himself realized that the situation was untenable and requested from the King the immediate holding of elections for the Constituent Assembly. When the King refused he felt he had no alternative but to resign.

The Parliamentary Community now formed a government led by Stojan Protić committed to the restoration of parliamentary norms and mitigating the centralization of the previous government. Their opposition to the former governments program of radical land reform also united them. As several small groups and individuals switched sides, Protić now even had a small majority. However, the Democratic Party and the Social Democrats now boycotted parliament and Protić was unable to muster a quorum. Hence the Parliamentary Community, now in government, was forced to rule by decree.

For the Parliamentary Community to thus violate the basic principle around which they had formed put them in an extremely difficult position. In April 1920 widespread worker unrest including a railway strike broke out and according to Gligorijević this put pressure on the two main parties to settle their differences. After successful negotiations Protić resigned to make way for a new government led by the neutral figure of Milenko Vesnić. The social democrats did not follow their former allies the Democratic Party into government because they were opposed to the anti-communist measures to which the new government was committed.

The controversies that had divided the parties earlier were still very much live issues. The Democratic Party continued to push their agenda of centralization and still insisted on the need for radical land reform. A disagreement over electoral law finally led the Democratic Party to vote against the government in Parliament and the government was defeated. Though this meeting had not been quorate, Vesnić used this as a pretext to resign. His action produced the result Vesnić had intended and the Radical Party agreed to accept the need for centralization while the Democratic Party agreed to drop their insistence on land reform and Vesnić again headed the new government. The Croatian Community and the Slovenian People's Party were however not at all happy with the Radicals acceptance of centralization. Nor for that matter was Stojan Protić and he withdrew from the government on this issue.

In September 1920 a peasant revolt broke out in Croatia, the immediate cause of which was the branding of the peasants' cattle. The Croatian Community blamed the centralizing policies of the government and of minister Svetozar Pribićević in particular.

From Constituent Assembly to Dictatorship

One of the few laws successfully passed by the Provisional Representation was the electoral law for the constituent assembly. During the negotiations that preceded the foundation of the new state it had been agreed that voting would be secret and based on universal suffrage. It had not really occurred to them that universal might include women until the beginnings of a movement for women's suffrage appeared with the creation of the new state. The Social Democrats and the Slovenian People's Party supported women's suffrage but the Radicals opposed it. The Democratic Party was open to the idea but not committed enough to make an issue of it so the proposal fell. Proportional Representation was accepted in principle but the system chosen (d'Hondt with very small constituencies) favored large parties and parties with strong regional support.

The election was held on 28 November 1920. When the votes were counted the Democratic Party had won the most seats, more than the Radicals—but only just. For a party that had been so dominant in the Provisional Representation that amounted to a defeat. Further they had done rather badly in all former Austria-Hungarian areas. That undercut their belief that their centralization policy represented the will of the Yugoslavian people as a whole. The Radicals had done no better in that region but this presented them far less of a problem because they had campaigned openly as a Serbian party. The most dramatic gains had been made by the two anti-system parties. The Croatian Republican Peasant Party's leadership had been released from prison only as the election campaign began to get underway but according to Gligorijević this far from hindering them had helped them more than active campaigning. The Croatian community (that had in a timid way tried to express the discontent that Croatian Republican Peasant Party mobilized) had been too tainted by their participation in government and was all but eliminated. The other gainers were the communists who had done especially well in the wider Macedonia region. The remainder of the seats were taken up by smaller parties that were at best skeptical of the centralizing platform of the Democratic Party.

The results left Nikola Pasić in a very strong position as the Democrats had no choice but to ally with the Radicals if they wanted to get their concept of a centralized Yugoslavia through, whereas Pasić was always careful to keep open the option of a deal with the Croatian opposition. The Democrats together with the Radicals were not quite strong enough to get the constitution through on their own and they made an alliance with the JMO, the Yugoslav Muslim Organization. The Muslim party sought and got concessions over the preservation of Bosnia in its borders and how the land reform would effect Muslim landowners in Bosnia.

Because the Croatian Republican Peasant Party refused to swear allegiance to the King on the grounds that this presumed that Yugoslavia would be a monarchy (something, they contended only the Constituent could decide) they were unable to take their seats. Most of the opposition though initially taking their seats declared boycotts as time went so that there were few votes against. However, the constitution decided against 1918 agreement between State of SCS and Kingdom of Serbia which has spoken about 66% majority that 50% plus one vote will be needed to pass irrespective of how many voted against and it was touch and go whether it would get this. Only last minute concessions to Džemijet—who were a group of Muslims from Macedonia and Kosovo - saved it.

The Vidovan Constitution

On 28 June 1921, the Vidovdan (St Vitus's Day) Constitution was passed, establishing a unitary monarchy. The pre-World War I traditional regions were abolished and 33 new administrative oblasts (provinces) ruled from the center were instituted. During this time, King Peter I died (16 August 1921) and the prince-regent succeeded to the throne as King Alexander I.

Ljubomir Davidović of the Democrats began to doubts about the wisdom of his parties commitment to centralization and opened up negotiations with the opposition. This threatened to provoke a split in his party as his action was opposed Svetozar Pribićević. It also gave Pasić a pretext to end the coalition. At first the King gave Pasić a mandate to form a coalition with Pribićević's Democrats. However, Pasić offered Pribićević too little for there to be much chance that Pribićević would agree and a purley Radical government was formed with a mandate to hold elections. In Serbia the governing party usually did well and these elections were no exception. The Radicals made gains at the expense of the Democrats but elsewhere there were gains by Radić's peasant's party.

Serb politicians around Radic regarded Serbia as the standard bearer of Yugoslav unity, as the state of Piedmont had been for Italy, or Prussia for the German Empire—a kind of “Greater Serbia”. Over the following years, Croatian resistance against a Serbo-centric policy increased.

In the early 1920s the Yugoslav government of prime minister Nikola Pasic used police pressure over voters and ethnic minorities, confiscation of opposition pamphlets[4] and other measures of election rigging. This was ineffective against the Croatian Peasant Party that continued to elect a large delegation to the Yugoslav parliament.[5] but did harm the radicals main Serbian rivals the Democrats.

Stjepan Radić, head of the Croatian Republican Peasant Party, was imprisoned many times due to political reasons.[6] He was released in 1925, and returned to parliament.

In the spring of 1928, Radić and Svetozar Pribićević waged a bitter parliamentary battle against the ratification of the Nettuno Convention with Italy. In this they mobilised nationalist opposition in Serbia but provoked a violent reaction from the governing majority including death threats. On 20 June 1928, a member of the government majority, the Serb deputy Puniša Račić shot down five members of the Croatian Peasant Party (formerly the Croatian Republican Peasant Party) including their leader Stjepan Radić. Two died on the floor of the Assembly while the life of Radić hung in the balance.

The opposition now completely withdrew from parliament declaring that they would not return to a parliament in which several of their representatives had been killed and insisting on new elections. On 1 August, at a meeting in Zagreb, they renounced 1 December Declaration of 1920. In this they were demanding that the negotiations for unification should begin from scratch. On 8 August Stjepan Radić died.

The 6th of January Dictatorship

Not long after that, on 6 January 1929, using as a pretext the political crisis triggered by the shooting, King Alexander abolished the Constitution, prorogued the Parliament and introduced a personal dictatorship (known as the January 6 Dictatorship, Šestojanuarska diktatura). He also changed the name of the country to Kingdom of Yugoslavia and changed the internal divisions from the 33 oblasts (županije) to nine new banovinas on 3 October

In 1931, Alexander decreed a new Constitution which made executive power the gift of the King. Elections were to be by universal suffrage (though universal still didn't include women). The provision for a secret ballot was dropped and pressure on public employees to vote for the governing party was to be a feature of all elections held under Alexander's constitution. Further, half the upper house was directly appointed by the King and legislation could become law with the approval of one of the houses alone if also approved by the King.

Croat opposition to the new régime was strong and, in late 1932, the Croatian Peasant Party issued the Zagreb Manifesto which sought an end to Serb hegemony and dictatorship. Belgrade reacted by imprisoning many political opponents including the new Croatian Peasant Party leader Vladko Maček. Despite these measures, opposition to the dictatorship continued, with Croats calling for a solution to what was called the Croatian question. In late 1934, the king planned to release Maček from prison, introduce democratic reforms, and attempt find common ground between Serbs and Croats.

However, on 9 October 1934, the king was assassinated in Marseille, France by Veličko Kerin (also known by his revolutionary pseudonym Vlado Chernozemski), a Macedonian activist of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization, in a conspiracy with Yugoslav exiles and radical members of banned political parties in cooperation with the Croatian extreme nationalist Ustaše organisation.

Because Alexander's eldest son, Peter II, was a minor, a regency council of three, specified in Alexander's will, took over the role of king. The council was dominated by the king's cousin Prince Paul.

In the late 1930s, internal tensions continued to increase with Serbs and Croats seeking to establish ethnic federal subdivisions. Serbs wanted Vardar Banovina (later known within Yugoslavia as Vardar Macedonia), Vojvodina, Montenegro united with Serb lands while Croatia wanted Dalmatia and some of Vojvodina. Both sides claimed territory in present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina populated by Bosniak Muslims. The expansion of Nazi Germany in 1938 gave new momentum to efforts to solve these problems and, in 1939, Prince Paul appointed Dragiša Cvetković as prime minister, with the goal of reaching an agreement with the Croatian opposition. Accordingly, on 26 August 1939, Vladko Maček became vice premier of Yugoslavia and an autonomous Banovina of Croatia was established with its own parliament.

These changes satisfied neither Serbs who were concerned with the status of the Serb minority in the new Banovina of Croatia and who wanted more of Bosnia and Herzegovina as Serbian territory. The Croatian nationalist Ustaše were also angered by any settlement short of full independence for a Greater Croatia including all of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Downfall of the Kingdom

Fearing an invasion of the World War II Axis Powers, Regent Prince Paul signed the Tripartite Pact on 25 March 1941, pledging cooperation with the Axis. Because of Paul's decision, massive demonstrations took place in Belgrade.

On 27 March, the regime of Prince Paul was overthrown by a military coup d'état with British support. The 17-year-old Peter II was declared to be of age and placed in power. General Dušan Simović became his Prime Minister. The Kingdom of Yugoslavia withdrew its support for the Axis de facto without formally renouncing the Tripartite Pact. Although the new rulers opposed Nazi Germany, they also feared that if German dictator Adolf Hitler attacked Yugoslavia, the United Kingdom was not in any real position to help. Regardless of this, on 6 April 1941, the German armed forces (Wehrmacht) launched the invasion of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and quickly conquered it. The royal family, including Prince Paul, escaped abroad and were interned by the British in Kenya.[citation needed]

The Kingdom of Yugoslavia was soon divided by the Axis into several entities. Germany, Italy, Hungary, and Bulgaria annexed some border areas outright. A Greater Germany was expanded to include most of Slovenia. Italy added the Governorship of Dalmatia and more than a third of western Slovenia to the Italian Empire. An expanded Croatia was recognized by the Axis as the Independent State of Croatia (Nezavisna Država Hrvatska, or NDH). On paper, the NDH was a kingdom and the 4th Duke of Aosta was crowned as King Tomislav II of Croatia. The rump Serbian territory became a military administration of Germany run by military governors and a Serb civil government led by Milan Nedić. Nedić attempted to gain German recognition of Serbia as a successor state to Yugoslavia and claimed King Peter II as Serbia's monarch. Puppet states were also set up in Montenegro and southern Yugoslavia.

Exile of the king and dissolution of the kingdom

King Peter II, who had escaped into exile, was still recognized as King of the whole state of Yugoslavia by the Allies. From 13 May 1941, the largely Serbian "Yugoslav Army of the Fatherland" (Jugoslovenska vojska u otadžbini, or JVUO, or Chetniks) resisted the Axis occupation of Yugoslavia. This anti-German and anti-communist resistance movement was commanded by Royalist General Draža Mihailović. For a long time, the Chetniks were supported by the British, the United States, and the Yugoslavian royal government in exile of King Peter II.

However, over the course of the war, effective power changed to the hands of Josip Broz Tito's Communist Partisans. In 1943, Tito proclaimed the creation of the Democratic Federative Yugoslavia (Demokratska federativna Jugoslavija). The Allies gradually recognized Tito's forces as the stronger opposition forces to the German occupation. They began to send most of their aide to Tito's Partisans, rather than to the Royalist Chetniks. On 16 June 1944, the Tito–Šubašić agreement was signed which merged the de facto and the de jure government of Yugoslavia.

In early 1945, after the Germans had been driven out, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was formally restored on paper. But real political power was held by Tito's Communist Partisans. On 29 November, King Peter II was deposed by Yugoslavia's Communist Constituent Assembly while he was still in exile. On 2 December, the Communist authorities claimed the entire territory as part of the Democratic Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The new Yugoslavia covered roughly the same territory as the Kingdom had, but it was no longer a monarchy.

Foreign policy

Pro-Allied government

The Kingdom nourished a close relationship with the Allies of World War I. This was especially the case between 1920 and 1934 with Yugoslavia's traditional supporters of Britain and France.

The Little Entente

From 1920 to 1921, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia had formed the Little Entente with Czechoslovakia and Romania. This was to prevent the possibility of Hungary regaining the territories it had lost after the First World War. The alliance soon fell apart as Yugoslavia didn't involve itself in Romania and Czechoslovakia's territorial expansion actions against Hungary.

Balkan alliances

In 1924, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia formed a Balkan Bloc with Greece, Romania, and Turkey that was intent on keeping balance on the Balkan peninsula. The alliance was formalized and entrenched in 9 February 1934 when it became the "Balkan Entente." In 1934, with the assassination of King Alexander I in Marseilles and the shifting of Yugoslav foreign policy, the alliance crumbled.

Italian coalition

The Kingdom of Italy had territorial ambitions against the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Relations between Italy and the kingdom's predecessors, the Kingdom of Serbia and the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs became sour and hostile during World War I, as Italian and Yugoslav politicians were in dispute over the region of Dalmatia which Italy demanded as part of Italy. These hostile relations were demonstrated on November 1, 1918, when Italian forces sunk the recently captured Austro-Hungarian battleship SMS Viribus Unitis being used by the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs. Italy formed a coalition against it with states with similar state designs, heavily influenced by Italy and/or fascism: Albania, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria which lasted from 1924 to 1927.

The 1927 cooperation with Britain and France made Italy withdraw from its anti-Yugoslav alliance. Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini accepted the extreme Croatian nationalist Ustase movement of Ante Pavelic to reside in Italy and use training grounds in Italy to prepare for war with Yugoslavia. Hungary also permitted such Ustase training camps as well. Mussolini allowed Pavelic to reside in Rome.

Friendship agreement

In 1927, in response to the growing Italian expansionism, the royal government of Yugoslavia signed an agreement of friendship and cooperation with Britain and France.

1935–1941 period

As official views had it, the last words of King Aleksandar had been 'Save Yugoslavia, and the friendship with France'. His successors were well aware of the need to try and do the first, but the second, maintaining close ties with France, was increasingly abandoned. There were several reasons for this. By the mid 1930s France, internally divided, was increasingly unable to play an important role in Eastern Europe and support its allies, many of whom had suffered badly from the economic crisis of that period. By contrast, Germany was increasingly willing to get into barter agreements with the countries of south east Europe. In the process those countries felt it was against their interests to closely follow France. An additional motive to improve relations with Italy and Germany was the fact that Italy supported the Ustase movement. As Maček intimated Italy would support Croatian secession from Yugoslavia, First Regent Prince Paul judged closer relations with Italy were inevitable. In an effort to rob the HSS from potential Italian support a treaty of friendship was signed between the two countries in 1937. This in fact diminished the Ustasa threat somewhat since Mussolini jailed some of their leaders and temporarily withdrew financial support. In 1938 Germany, annexing Austria, became a neighbour of Yugoslavia. The feeble reaction of France and Britain, later that year, during the Sudeten Crisis convinced Belgrade that a) a European war was inevitable, b) it would be unwise to support France and Britain. Instead, Yugoslavia tried to stay aloof, this in spite of Paul's personal sympathies for Britain and Serbia's establishment's predilections for France. In the mean time, Germany and Italy tried to exploit Yugoslavia's domestic problems, and so did Maček. In the end, the regency agreed to the formation of the Banovina hrvatska in August 1939. This did not put an end to the pressures from Germany and Italy, while Yugoslavia's strategic position deteriorated by the day. It was increasingly dependent on the German market (about 90% of its exports went to Germany), while in April 1939 Italy invaded and annexed Albania. In October 1940 it attacked Greece. by that time, France had already been eliminated from the scene, leaving Britain as Yugoslavia's only potential ally - given that Belgrade had not recognized the Soviet Union. London however wanted to involve Yugoslavia in the war, which it rejected. From late 1940 Hitler wanted Belgrade to unequivocally choose sides, and pressure intensified, culminating in the signing of the Tripartite Pact on 25 March 1941. Two days later Prince Paul was deposed in a coup d'état, his nephew Peter II was proclaimed of age, but the new government, headed by gen. Simović assured Germany it would adhere to the Pact. Hitler however ordered the invasion of Yugoslavia. On 6 April 1941 Belgrade was bombed, on 10 April the Independent State of Croatia was proclaimed and on 17 April the weak Yugoslav Army capitulated.

1941-1945

After the invasion, the Yugoslav royal government went into exile and local Yugoslav forces rose up in resistance to the occupying Axis powers. Initially the monarchy preferred Draža Mihailović and his Serb-dominated Chetnik resistance. However, in 1944, the Tito-Šubašić agreement recognised the Partisans of Josip Broz Tito as the legitimate armed forces of Yugoslavia in exchange for Partisans formally recognising and taking part in a new government. Royalist Prime Minister Ivan Šubašić held his post until 30 January 1945. On 7 March 1945, Tito formally became Prime Minister of Yugoslavia. Šubašić was Foreign Minister in Tito's cabinet until October, when Šubašić resigned, disagreeing with Communist policies of the new government.

Monarchy deposed

On 29 November 1945, while still in exile, King Peter II was deposed by the Constituent Assembly. However, he refused to abdicate.

Demographics

Serbs, Croats and Slovenes were the constitutional nations up to 1929, when they were merged into a new nationality—Yugoslavs. It has to be noted that the Macedonian language was not officially recognized and was simply counted as Serbo-Croatian. The following data, grouped by mother tongue, is from the 1921 population census:

Ethnic groups

Religious groups

Total population by class and occupation

List of Rulers

  1. Peter I (1 December 1918 – 16 August 1921; prince regent Alexander ruled in the name of the king)
  2. Alexander I (16 August 1921 – 9 October 1934)
  3. Peter II (9 October 1934 – 29 November 1945; in exile from 13 April or 14 April 1941)
    • Regency headed by Prince Paul (9 October 1934 – 27 March 1941)

List of Prime ministers

Prime ministers of Royal Government in Exile (in Cairo/London)

Subdivisions

The subdivisions of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia existed successively in three different forms. From 1918 to 1922, the kingdom maintained the pre-World War I subdivisions of Yugoslavia's predecessor states. In 1922, the state was divided into 33 oblasts or provinces and, in 1929, a new system of nine banovinas was implemented. In 1939, as an accommodation to Yugoslav Croats in the Cvetković-Maček Agreement, a Banovina of Croatia was formed, replacing two of the 1929 banovinas and including sections of others as well.

See also

References

  1. ^ Constitutions of Serbia, from the Digital National Library of Serbia (Serbian Cyrillic, Latin, English)
  2. ^ History of the municipal theatre from Corfu city hall Quote: "The Municipal Theatre was not only an Art-monument but also a historical one. On its premises the exiled Serbian parliament, held meetings in 1916, which decided the creation of the new Unified Kingdom of Yugoslavia."
  3. ^ Branislav Gligorijević, Parliament i političke stranke u Jugoslaviji 1919–1929
  4. ^ Balkan Politics, TIME Magazine, March 31, 1923
  5. ^ Elections, TIME Magazine, February 23, 1925
  6. ^ The Opposition, TIME Magazine, April 06, 1925

External links


Kraljevina Jugoslavija
Краљевина Југославија
Kingdom of Yugoslavia¹
File:Flag of Serbia (1882-1918).svg
 
File:Flag of the State of Slovenes, Croats and
 
File:Flag of Montenegro (1941-1944).svg
1918–1943 File:Yugoslav Partisans flag
File:Flag of the Kingdom of File:Coat of arms of the Kingdom of
Flag Coat of arms
Motto
Cyrillic script: Један народ, један краљ, једна држава
Latin script: Jedan narod, jedan kralj, jedna država
Slovene: En narod, en kralj, ena država

"One Nation, one King, one Country"
Anthem
National Anthem of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia
Capital Belgrade
Language(s) Serbo-Croato-Slovene
Government Constitutional monarchy
(royal dictatorship: 1929-1934)
King
 - 1918–1921 Peter I of Yugoslavia
 - 1921–1934 Alexander I of Yugoslavia
 - 1934–1945 Peter II of Yugoslavia
Regent
 - 1934–1941 Prince Paul
Historical era Interwar period
 - Union 1 December 1918
 - Dictatorship 6 January 1929
 - Axis invasion April, 1941
 - Republic declared 29 November 1945
Area
 - 1921 247,542 km2 (95,577 sq mi)
Population
 - 1921 est. 11,984,911 
     Density 48.4 /km2  (125.4 /sq mi)
 - 1931 est. 13,934,038 
     Density 56.3 /km2  (145.8 /sq mi)
Currency Yugoslav krone (until 1920)
Yugoslav dinar (after 1920)
1The Kingdom was called Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes upon its formation on 1 December 1918. From 1929, under the 6 January dictatorship, the country was known as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia
2: The country was occupied by Axis powers in April 1941. However the legitimate royal government in exile was recognized and supported by Allied forces. In 1943, the new country called Democratic Federal Yugoslavia was proclaimed. The king was deposed by the constituent assembly on 2 December 1945.
3: Serbo-Croatian language and Slovene[1]

The Kingdom of Yugoslavia (Serbo-Croat and Slovene: Kraljevina Jugoslavija, Cyrillic script: Краљевина Југославија) was a kingdom stretching from the Western Balkans to Central Europe which existed during the often-tumultuous interwar era of 1918–1941. It was formed in 1918 by the merger of the provisional State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, formed from territories of the defunct Austro-Hungarian Empire, with the formerly independent Kingdom of Serbia. The Kingdom of Montenegro had passed to Serbian rule days earlier, while the regions of Kosovo, Vojvodina and Macedonia were parts of Serbia prior to the unification. For its first eleven years of existence it was officially called Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, but the term Yugoslavia was its colloquial name from the very beginning.[citation needed] On 17 April 1941, Yugoslavia fell prey to Nazi occupation and was reorganised into four provinces under foreign rule; a royal government-in-exile, recognized by the United Kingdom and later by all the Allied powers, was established in London. In 1943, the new country called Democratic Federal Yugoslavia was proclaimed, and its capital was freed following the Belgrade Offensive. The King was formally deposed by the Constituent assembly on 29 November 1945.

Contents

Formation

Yugoslav nationalism escalated and cemented in the Balkans following the assassination of Austrian Arch Duke Francis Ferdinand by Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princip, the subsequent invasion of Serbia and the outbreak of World War I. Yugoslav nationalists called for the independence and unification of the Yugoslav nationalities of Austria-Hungary along with Serbia and Montenegro into a single Yugoslav state. Dalmatian Croat politician Ante Trumbić became the prominent Yugoslav nationalist leader during the war, and lead the Yugoslav Committee that lobbied the Allies to support the creation of an independent Yugoslavia.[2] Trumbić faced initial hostility from Serbian Prime Minister Nikola Pašić who preferred an enlarged Serbia over a unified Yugoslav state, however both Pašić and Trumbić agreed to a compromise which was delivered at the Corfu Declaration on 20 July 1917 that advocated the creation of a united state of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes that would be led by the Serbian House of Karađorđević.[2]

In 1916 the Serbian Parliament in exile decided on the creation of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia at a meeting inside the Municipal Theatre of Corfu.[3] The kingdom was formed on 1 December 1918 under the name "Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes" (Serbian: Краљевина Срба, Хрвата и Словенаца / Kraljevina Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca, Croatian: Kraljevina Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca, Slovene: Kraljevina Srbov, Hrvatov in Slovencev) or Kingdom of SHS (Краљевина СХС / Kraljevina SHS) for short.

On 1 December 1918 the new kingdom was proclaimed by Alexander Karađorđević, Prince-Regent for his father, Peter I of Serbia. The new Kingdom was made up of the formerly independent kingdoms of Serbia and Montenegro (which had unified in the previous month), as well as a substantial amount of territory that was formerly part of Austria–Hungary, the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs. The lands previously in Austria–Hungary that formed the new state included Croatia, Slavonia and Vojvodina from the Hungarian part of the Empire, Carniola, part of Styria and most of Dalmatia from the Austrian part, and the crown province of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The creation of the state was supported by Pan-Slav nationalists and Serbian nationalists. For the Pan-Slavic movement, all of the South Slav (Yugoslav) people had united into a single state and hoped that the peoples would unite as Slavs and abandon past differences. For Serbian nationalists, the desired goal of uniting the majority of the Serb people across the Balkans into one state was also achieved. Furthermore, as Serbia already had a government, military, and police force, it was the logical choice to form the nucleus of the Yugoslav state.

Yugoslavia participated in the Paris Peace Conference with Trumbić as the country's representative.[2] Trumbić successfully vouched for the inclusion of most Yugoslavs of the former Austria-Hungary to be included within the borders of Yugoslavia but failed to secure the inclusion of 500,000 Slovenes and Croats who were placed under Italian rule with the Treaty of Rapallo of 1920.[2]

The Yugoslav kingdom bordered Italy and Austria to the northwest, Hungary and Romania to the north, Bulgaria to the east, Greece and Albania to the south, and the Adriatic Sea to the west. Almost immediately, it ran into disputes with all its neighbors except Romania. Slovenia was difficult to determine, since it had been an integral part of Austria for 400 years. The Vojvodina region was disputed with Hungary, Macedonia with Bulgaria, Fiume and Trieste with Italy, and also the border with Greece, in essence a ceasefire line from the Balkan Wars. Finally, Yugoslavia claimed half of Albania for itself.

A plebiscite was also held in the Province of Carinthia, which opted to remain in Austria. Austrians had formed a majority in this region although numbers reflected that some Slovenes did vote for Carinthia to become part of Austria. The Dalmatian port city of Zadar (Italian: Zara) and a few of the Dalmatian islands were given to Italy. The city of Rijeka (Italian: Fiume) was declared to be the Free State of Fiume, but it was soon occupied, and in 1924 annexed, by Italy, which had also been promised the Dalmatian coast during World War I, and Yugoslavia claiming Istria, a part of the former Austrian Littoral which had been annexed to Italy, but which contained a considerable population of Croats and Slovenes.

The formation of the constitution of 1921 sparked tensions between the different Yugoslav nationalities.[2] Trumbić opposed the 1921 constitution and over time grew increasingly hostile towards the Yugoslav government that he saw as being centralized in the favour of Serb hegemony over Yugoslavia.[2]

The new government tried to integrate the new country politically as well as economically, a task made difficult because of the diversity of language (chiefly disagreements between Serbian and Croatian speakers over standardising Serbo-Croat); ethnicities, and religions in the new state; the different history of each region (characterised by centuries of subjugation by different rulers, e.g. Venice, Hungary, Austria, Ottoman Empire etc.), and differences in economic development among regions (a more developed north spanning Slovenia, northern Croatia and northern Serbia, than a poorer south which encompassed Dalmatia, Montenegro and southern Serbia).

Economics

Three quarters of the Yugoslav workforce was engaged in agriculture. A few farmers existed, but most were subsistence peasants. Those in the south were especially poor, living in a hilly, infertile region. No large estates existed except in the north, and all of those were owned by foreigners. Indeed, one of the first actions undertaken by the new Yugoslav state in 1919 was to break up the estates and dispose of foreign, and in particular Magyar, landowners.

Manufacturing was limited to Belgrade and the other major population centers, and consisted mainly of small, comparatively primitive facilities that produced strictly for the domestic market. The commercial potential of Yugoslavia's Mediterranean ports went to waste because the nation lacked the capital or technical knowledge to operate a shipping industry. On the other hand, the mining industry was well developed due to the nation's abundance of mineral resources, but since it was primarily owned and operated by foreigners, most production went to export.

Yugoslavia was typical of Eastern European nations in that it borrowed large sums of money from the West during the 1920s. When the Great Depression began in 1930, the Western lenders called in their debts, which could not be paid back. Some of the money was lost to graft, although most was used by farmers to improve production and export potential. Agricultural exports were always an unstable prospect, and the Depression caused the market for them to collapse as nations everywhere erected trade barriers. Italy was a major trading partner of Yugoslavia in the initial years after World War I, but ties fell off after Benito Mussolini came to power. In the grim economic situation of the 1930s, Yugoslavia followed the lead of its neighbors in allowing itself to become a dependent of Nazi Germany.

Early politics

, held the position of Prime Minister of Yugoslavia in a number of separate tenures.]] Immediately after 1 December proclamation, negotiations between the People's Council (of the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs) and the Serbian government resulted in agreement over the new government which was to be headed by Nikola Pašić. However when this agreement was submitted to the approval of the regent, Alexander Karađorđević, it was rejected, producing the new state's first governmental crisis. Many regarded this rejection as a violation of parliamentary principles, but the matter was resolved when the regent suggested[4] replacing Pašić with Stojan Protić, a leading member of Pašić's Radical Party. The People's Council and the Serbian government agreed and the new government came into existence on December 20, 1918.[5][4]

In this period before the election of the Constituent Assembly, a Provisional Representation served as a parliament which was formed by delegates from the various elected bodies that had existed before the creation of the state. A realignment of parties combining several members of the Serbian opposition with political parties from the former Austria–Hungary led to the creation of a new party, The Democratic Party, that dominated the Provisional Representation and the government.

Because the Democratic Party led by Ljubomir Davidović pushed a highly centralized agenda a number of Croatian delegates moved into opposition. However, the radicals themselves were not happy that they had only three ministers to the Democratic Party's 11 and, on 16 August 1919, Protić handed in his resignation. Davidović then formed a coalition with the Social Democrats. This government did have a majority but the quorum of the Provisional Representation was half plus one vote. The opposition then began to boycott the parliament and as the government could never guarantee that all their supporters to turn up it became impossible to hold a quorate meeting of the parliament. Davidović quickly resigned but as no one else could form a government he again became prime minister. As the opposition continued their boycott the government decided it had no alternative but to rule by decree. This was denounced by the opposition who began to style themselves as the Paliamentary Community. Davidović himself realized that the situation was untenable and requested from the King the immediate holding of elections for the Constituent Assembly. When the King refused he felt he had no alternative but to resign.

The Parliamentary Community now formed a government led by Stojan Protić committed to the restoration of parliamentary norms and mitigating the centralization of the previous government. Their opposition to the former governments program of radical land reform also united them. As several small groups and individuals switched sides, Protić now even had a small majority. However, the Democratic Party and the Social Democrats now boycotted parliament and Protić was unable to muster a quorum. Hence the Parliamentary Community, now in government, was forced to rule by decree.

For the Parliamentary Community to thus violate the basic principle around which they had formed put them in an extremely difficult position. In April 1920 widespread worker unrest including a railway strike broke out and according to Gligorijević this put pressure on the two main parties to settle their differences. After successful negotiations Protić resigned to make way for a new government led by the neutral figure of Milenko Vesnić. The social democrats did not follow their former allies the Democratic Party into government because they were opposed to the anti-communist measures to which the new government was committed.

The controversies that had divided the parties earlier were still very much live issues. The Democratic Party continued to push their agenda of centralization and still insisted on the need for radical land reform. A disagreement over electoral law finally led the Democratic Party to vote against the government in Parliament and the government was defeated. Though this meeting had not been quorate, Vesnić used this as a pretext to resign. His action produced the result Vesnić had intended and the Radical Party agreed to accept the need for centralization while the Democratic Party agreed to drop their insistence on land reform and Vesnić again headed the new government. The Croatian Community and the Slovenian People's Party were however not at all happy with the Radicals acceptance of centralization. Nor for that matter was Stojan Protić and he withdrew from the government on this issue.

In September 1920 a peasant revolt broke out in Croatia, the immediate cause of which was the branding of the peasants' cattle. The Croatian Community blamed the centralizing policies of the government and of minister Svetozar Pribićević in particular.

From Constituent Assembly to Dictatorship

One of the few laws successfully passed by the Provisional Representation was the electoral law for the constituent assembly. During the negotiations that preceded the foundation of the new state it had been agreed that voting would be secret and based on universal suffrage. It had not really occurred to them that universal might include women until the beginnings of a movement for women's suffrage appeared with the creation of the new state. The Social Democrats and the Slovenian People's Party supported women's suffrage but the Radicals opposed it. The Democratic Party was open to the idea but not committed enough to make an issue of it so the proposal fell. Proportional Representation was accepted in principle but the system chosen (d'Hondt with very small constituencies) favored large parties and parties with strong regional support.

The election was held on 28 November 1920. When the votes were counted the Democratic Party had won the most seats, more than the Radicals—but only just. For a party that had been so dominant in the Provisional Representation that amounted to a defeat. Further they had done rather badly in all former Austria-Hungarian areas. That undercut their belief that their centralization policy represented the will of the Yugoslavian people as a whole. The Radicals had done no better in that region but this presented them far less of a problem because they had campaigned openly as a Serbian party. The most dramatic gains had been made by the two anti-system parties. The Croatian Republican Peasant Party's leadership had been released from prison only as the election campaign began to get underway but according to Gligorijević this far from hindering them had helped them more than active campaigning. The Croatian community (that had in a timid way tried to express the discontent that Croatian Republican Peasant Party mobilized) had been too tainted by their participation in government and was all but eliminated. The other gainers were the communists who had done especially well in the wider Macedonia region. The remainder of the seats were taken up by smaller parties that were at best skeptical of the centralizing platform of the Democratic Party.

The results left Nikola Pasić in a very strong position as the Democrats had no choice but to ally with the Radicals if they wanted to get their concept of a centralized Yugoslavia through, whereas Pasić was always careful to keep open the option of a deal with the Croatian opposition. The Democrats together with the Radicals were not quite strong enough to get the constitution through on their own and they made an alliance with the JMO, the Yugoslav Muslim Organization. The Muslim party sought and got concessions over the preservation of Bosnia in its borders and how the land reform would effect Muslim landowners in Bosnia.

Because the Croatian Republican Peasant Party refused to swear allegiance to the King on the grounds that this presumed that Yugoslavia would be a monarchy (something, they contended only the Constituent could decide) they were unable to take their seats. Most of the opposition though initially taking their seats declared boycotts as time went so that there were few votes against. However, the constitution decided against 1918 agreement between the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs and the Kingdom of Serbia, which has spoken about 66% majority that 50% plus one vote will be needed to pass irrespective of how many voted against and it was touch and go whether it would get this. Only last minute concessions to Džemijet – who were a group of Muslims from Macedonia and Kosovo – saved it.

[[File:|thumb|upright|The Vidovan Constitution]] On 28 June 1921, the Vidovdan (St Vitus's Day) Constitution was passed, establishing a unitary monarchy. The pre-World War I traditional regions were abolished and 33 new administrative oblasts (provinces) ruled from the center were instituted. During this time, King Peter I died (16 August 1921) and the prince-regent succeeded to the throne as King Alexander I.

Ljubomir Davidović of the Democrats began to doubts about the wisdom of his parties commitment to centralization and opened up negotiations with the opposition. This threatened to provoke a split in his party as his action was opposed Svetozar Pribićević. It also gave Pasić a pretext to end the coalition. At first the King gave Pasić a mandate to form a coalition with Pribićević's Democrats. However, Pasić offered Pribićević too little for there to be much chance that Pribićević would agree and a purley Radical government was formed with a mandate to hold elections. In Serbia the governing party usually did well and these elections were no exception. The Radicals made gains at the expense of the Democrats but elsewhere there were gains by Radić's peasant's party.

Serb politicians around Radic regarded Serbia as the standard bearer of Yugoslav unity, as the state of Piedmont had been for Italy, or Prussia for the German Empire—a kind of “Greater Serbia”. Over the following years, Croatian resistance against a Serbo-centric policy increased.

In the early 1920s the Yugoslav government of prime minister Nikola Pasic used police pressure over voters and ethnic minorities, confiscation of opposition pamphlets[6] and other measures of election rigging. This was ineffective against the Croatian Peasant Party that continued to elect a large delegation to the Yugoslav parliament.[7] but did harm the radicals main Serbian rivals the Democrats.

Stjepan Radić, head of the Croatian Republican Peasant Party, was imprisoned many times due to political reasons.[8] He was released in 1925, and returned to parliament.

In the spring of 1928, Radić and Svetozar Pribićević waged a bitter parliamentary battle against the ratification of the Nettuno Convention with Italy. In this they mobilised nationalist opposition in Serbia but provoked a violent reaction from the governing majority including death threats. On 20 June 1928, a member of the government majority, the Serb deputy Puniša Račić shot down five members of the Croatian Peasant Party (formerly the Croatian Republican Peasant Party) including their leader Stjepan Radić. Two died on the floor of the Assembly while the life of Radić hung in the balance.

The opposition now completely withdrew from parliament declaring that they would not return to a parliament in which several of their representatives had been killed and insisting on new elections. On 1 August, at a meeting in Zagreb, they renounced 1 December Declaration of 1920. In this they were demanding that the negotiations for unification should begin from scratch. On 8 August Stjepan Radić died.

The 6th of January Dictatorship

Not long after that, on 6 January 1929, using as a pretext the political crisis triggered by the shooting, King Alexander abolished the Constitution, prorogued the Parliament and introduced a personal dictatorship (known as the January 6 Dictatorship, Šestojanuarska diktatura). He also changed the name of the country to Kingdom of Yugoslavia and changed the internal divisions from the 33 oblasts (županije) to nine new banovinas on 3 October

In 1931, Alexander decreed a new Constitution which made executive power the gift of the King. Elections were to be by universal suffrage (though universal still didn't include women). The provision for a secret ballot was dropped and pressure on public employees to vote for the governing party was to be a feature of all elections held under Alexander's constitution. Further, half the upper house was directly appointed by the King and legislation could become law with the approval of one of the houses alone if also approved by the King.

Croat opposition to the new régime was strong and, in late 1932, the Croatian Peasant Party issued the Zagreb Manifesto which sought an end to Serb hegemony and dictatorship. Belgrade reacted by imprisoning many political opponents including the new Croatian Peasant Party leader Vladko Maček. Despite these measures, opposition to the dictatorship continued, with Croats calling for a solution to what was called the Croatian question. In late 1934, the king planned to release Maček from prison, introduce democratic reforms, and attempt find common ground between Serbs and Croats.

However, on 9 October 1934, the king was assassinated in Marseille, France by Veličko Kerin (also known by his revolutionary pseudonym Vlado Chernozemski), a Macedonian activist of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization, in a conspiracy with Yugoslav exiles and radical members of banned political parties in cooperation with the Croatian extreme nationalist Ustaše organisation.

Because Alexander's eldest son, Peter II, was a minor, a regency council of three, specified in Alexander's will, took over the role of king. The council was dominated by the king's cousin Prince Paul.

In the late 1930s, internal tensions continued to increase with Serbs and Croats seeking to establish ethnic federal subdivisions. Serbs wanted Vardar Banovina (later known within Yugoslavia as Vardar Macedonia), Vojvodina, Montenegro united with Serb lands while Croatia wanted Dalmatia and some of Vojvodina. Both sides claimed territory in present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina populated by Bosniak Muslims. The expansion of Nazi Germany in 1938 gave new momentum to efforts to solve these problems and, in 1939, Prince Paul appointed Dragiša Cvetković as prime minister, with the goal of reaching an agreement with the Croatian opposition. Accordingly, on 26 August 1939, Vladko Maček became vice premier of Yugoslavia and an autonomous Banovina of Croatia was established with its own parliament.

These changes satisfied neither Serbs who were concerned with the status of the Serb minority in the new Banovina of Croatia and who wanted more of Bosnia and Herzegovina as Serbian territory. The Croatian nationalist Ustaše were also angered by any settlement short of full independence for a Greater Croatia including all of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Downfall of the Kingdom

Fearing an invasion of the World War II Axis Powers, Regent Prince Paul signed the Tripartite Pact on 25 March 1941, pledging cooperation with the Axis. Because of Paul's decision, massive demonstrations took place in Belgrade.

On 27 March, the regime of Prince Paul was overthrown by a military coup d'état with British support. The 17-year-old Peter II was declared to be of age and placed in power. General Dušan Simović became his Prime Minister. The Kingdom of Yugoslavia withdrew its support for the Axis de facto without formally renouncing the Tripartite Pact. Although the new rulers opposed Nazi Germany, they also feared that if German dictator Adolf Hitler attacked Yugoslavia, the United Kingdom was not in any real position to help. Regardless of this, on 6 April 1941, the German armed forces (Wehrmacht) launched the invasion of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and quickly conquered it. The royal family, including Prince Paul, escaped abroad and were interned by the British in Kenya.[citation needed]

The Kingdom of Yugoslavia was soon divided by the Axis into several entities. Germany, Italy, Hungary, and Bulgaria annexed some border areas outright. A Greater Germany was expanded to include most of Slovenia. Italy added the Governorship of Dalmatia and more than a third of western Slovenia to the Italian Empire. An expanded Croatia was recognized by the Axis as the Independent State of Croatia (Nezavisna Država Hrvatska, or NDH). On paper, the NDH was a kingdom and the 4th Duke of Aosta was crowned as King Tomislav II of Croatia. The rump Serbian territory became a military administration of Germany run by military governors and a Serb civil government led by Milan Nedić. Nedić attempted to gain German recognition of Serbia as a successor state to Yugoslavia and claimed King Peter II as Serbia's monarch. Puppet states were also set up in Montenegro and southern Yugoslavia.

Exile of the king and dissolution of the kingdom

King Peter II, who had escaped into exile, was still recognized as King of the whole state of Yugoslavia by the Allies. From 13 May 1941, the largely Serbian "Yugoslav Army of the Fatherland" (Jugoslovenska vojska u otadžbini, or JVUO, or Chetniks) resisted the Axis occupation of Yugoslavia. This anti-German and anti-communist resistance movement was commanded by Royalist General Draža Mihailović. For a long time, the Chetniks were supported by the British, the United States, and the Yugoslavian royal government in exile of King Peter II.

However, over the course of the war, effective power changed to the hands of Josip Broz Tito's Communist Partisans. In 1943, Tito proclaimed the creation of the Democratic Federative Yugoslavia (Demokratska federativna Jugoslavija). The Allies gradually recognized Tito's forces as the stronger opposition forces to the German occupation. They began to send most of their aid to Tito's Partisans, rather than to the Royalist Chetniks. On 16 June 1944, the Tito–Šubašić agreement was signed which merged the de facto and the de jure government of Yugoslavia.

In early 1945, after the Germans had been driven out, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was formally restored on paper. But real political power was held by Tito's Communist Partisans. On 29 November, King Peter II was deposed by Yugoslavia's Communist Constituent Assembly while he was still in exile. On 2 December, the Communist authorities claimed the entire territory as part of the Democratic Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The new Yugoslavia covered roughly the same territory as the Kingdom had, but it was no longer a monarchy.

Foreign policy

Pro-Allied government

The Kingdom nourished a close relationship with the Allies of World War I. This was especially the case between 1920 and 1934 with Yugoslavia's traditional supporters of Britain and France.

The Little Entente

From 1920 to 1921, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia had formed the Little Entente with Czechoslovakia and Romania. This was to prevent the possibility of Hungary regaining the territories it had lost after the First World War. The alliance soon fell apart as Yugoslavia didn't involve itself in Romania and Czechoslovakia's territorial expansion actions against Hungary.

Balkan alliances

In 1924, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia formed a Balkan Bloc with Greece, Romania, and Turkey that was intent on keeping balance on the Balkan peninsula. The alliance was formalized and entrenched in 9 February 1934 when it became the "Balkan Entente". In 1934, with the assassination of King Alexander I in Marseilles and the shifting of Yugoslav foreign policy, the alliance crumbled.

Italian coalition

The Kingdom of Italy had territorial ambitions against the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Relations between Italy and the kingdom's predecessors, the Kingdom of Serbia and the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs became sour and hostile during World War I, as Italian and Yugoslav politicians were in dispute over the region of Dalmatia which Italy demanded as part of Italy. These hostile relations were demonstrated on November 1, 1918, when Italian forces sunk the recently captured Austro-Hungarian battleship SMS Viribus Unitis being used by the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs. Italy formed a coalition against it with states with similar state designs, heavily influenced by Italy and/or fascism: Albania, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria which lasted from 1924 to 1927.

The 1927 cooperation with Britain and France made Italy withdraw from its anti-Yugoslav alliance. Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini accepted the extreme Croatian nationalist Ustase movement of Ante Pavelić to reside in Italy and use training grounds in Italy to prepare for war with Yugoslavia. Hungary also permitted such Ustase training camps as well. Mussolini allowed Pavelić to reside in Rome.

Friendship agreement

In 1927, in response to the growing Italian expansionism, the royal government of Yugoslavia signed an agreement of friendship and cooperation with Britain and France.

1935–1941 period

As official views had it, the last words of King Aleksandar had been 'Save Yugoslavia, and the friendship with France'. His successors were well aware of the need to try and do the first, but the second, maintaining close ties with France, was increasingly abandoned. There were several reasons for this. By the mid 1930s France, internally divided, was increasingly unable to play an important role in Eastern Europe and support its allies, many of whom had suffered badly from the economic crisis of that period. By contrast, Germany was increasingly willing to get into barter agreements with the countries of south east Europe. In the process those countries felt it was against their interests to closely follow France. An additional motive to improve relations with Italy and Germany was the fact that Italy supported the Ustase movement. As Maček intimated Italy would support Croatian secession from Yugoslavia, First Regent Prince Paul judged closer relations with Italy were inevitable. In an effort to rob the HSS from potential Italian support a treaty of friendship was signed between the two countries in 1937. This in fact diminished the Ustasa threat somewhat since Mussolini jailed some of their leaders and temporarily withdrew financial support. In 1938 Germany, annexing Austria, became a neighbour of Yugoslavia. The feeble reaction of France and Britain, later that year, during the Sudeten Crisis convinced Belgrade that a) a European war was inevitable, b) it would be unwise to support France and Britain. Instead, Yugoslavia tried to stay aloof, this in spite of Paul's personal sympathies for Britain and Serbia's establishment's predilections for France. In the mean time, Germany and Italy tried to exploit Yugoslavia's domestic problems, and so did Maček. In the end, the regency agreed to the formation of the Banovina hrvatska in August 1939. This did not put an end to the pressures from Germany and Italy, while Yugoslavia's strategic position deteriorated by the day. It was increasingly dependent on the German market (about 90% of its exports went to Germany), while in April 1939 Italy invaded and annexed Albania. In October 1940 it attacked Greece. by that time, France had already been eliminated from the scene, leaving Britain as Yugoslavia's only potential ally - given that Belgrade had not recognized the Soviet Union. London however wanted to involve Yugoslavia in the war, which it rejected.

File:Yugoslavia-Stamp-1939-King Peter
Postage stamp, Yugoslavia, 1939: The young prince Peter II was proclaimed King on March 27, 1941.

From late 1940 Hitler wanted Belgrade to unequivocally choose sides, and pressure intensified, culminating in the signing of the Tripartite Pact on 25 March 1941. Two days later Prince Paul was deposed in a coup d'état, his nephew Peter II was proclaimed of age, but the new government, headed by gen. Simović assured Germany it would adhere to the Pact. Hitler however ordered the invasion of Yugoslavia. On 6 April 1941 Belgrade was bombed, on 10 April the Independent State of Croatia was proclaimed and on 17 April the weak Yugoslav Army capitulated.

1941-1945

After the invasion, the Yugoslav royal government went into exile and local Yugoslav forces rose up in resistance to the occupying Axis powers. Initially the monarchy preferred Draža Mihailović and his Serb-dominated Chetnik resistance. However, in 1944, the Tito-Šubašić agreement recognised the Partisans of Josip Broz Tito as the legitimate armed forces of Yugoslavia in exchange for Partisans formally recognising and taking part in a new government. Royalist Prime Minister Ivan Šubašić held his post until 30 January 1945. On 7 March 1945, Tito formally became Prime Minister of Yugoslavia. Šubašić was Foreign Minister in Tito's cabinet until October, when Šubašić resigned, disagreeing with Communist policies of the new government.

Monarchy deposed

On 29 November 1945, while still in exile, King Peter II was deposed by the Constituent Assembly. However, he refused to abdicate.

Demographics

Serbs, Croats and Slovenes were the constitutional nations up to 1929, when they were merged into a new nationality—Yugoslavs. The following data, grouped by mother tongue, is from the 1921 population census:

Ethnic groups

Religious groups

Total population by class and occupation

List of Rulers

  1. Peter I (1 December 1918 – 16 August 1921; prince regent Alexander ruled in the name of the king)
  2. Alexander I (16 August 1921 – 9 October 1934)
  3. Peter II (9 October 1934 – 29 November 1945; in exile from 13 April or 14 April 1941)
    • Regency headed by Prince Paul (9 October 1934 – 27 March 1941)

List of Prime ministers

  • Stojan Protić (1918–1919)
  • Ljubomir Davidović (1919–1920)
  • Stojan Protić (1920)
  • Milenko Vesnić (1920–1921)
  • Nikola Pašić (1921–1924)
  • Ljubomir Davidović (1924)
  • Nikola Pašić (1924–1926)
  • Nikola Uzunović (1926–1927)
  • Velimir Vukićević (1927–1928)
  • Anton Korošec (1928–1929)
  • Petar Živković (1929–1932)
  • Vojislav Marinković (1932)
  • Milan Srškić (1932–1934)
  • Nikola Uzunović (1934)
  • Bogoljub Jevtić (1934–1935)
  • Milan Stojadinović (1935–1939)
  • Dragiša Cvetković (1939–1941)
  • Dušan Simović (1941–1942)

Prime ministers of Royal Government in Exile (in Cairo/London)

  • Dušan Simović (1941–1942)
  • Slobodan Jovanović (1942–1943)
  • Miloš Trifunović (1943)
  • Božidar Purić (1943–1944)
  • Ivan Šubašić (1944–1945)
  • Drago Marušič (1945)

Subdivisions

The subdivisions of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia existed successively in three different forms. From 1918 to 1922, the kingdom maintained the pre-World War I subdivisions of Yugoslavia's predecessor states. In 1922, the state was divided into 33 oblasts or provinces and, in 1929, a new system of nine banovinas was implemented. In 1939, as an accommodation to Yugoslav Croats in the Cvetković-Maček Agreement, a Banovina of Croatia was formed, replacing two of the 1929 banovinas and including sections of others as well.

See also

References

  1. ^ Constitutions of Serbia, from the Digital National Library of Serbia (Serbian Cyrillic, Latin, English)
  2. ^ a b c d e f Spencer Tucker. Encyclopedia of World War I: A Political, Social, and Military History. Santa Barbara, California, USA: ABC-CLIO, 2005. Pp. 1189.
  3. ^ History of the municipal theatre from Corfu city hall Quote: "The Municipal Theatre was not only an Art-monument but also a historical one. On its premises the exiled Serbian parliament, held meetings in 1916, which decided the creation of the new Unified Kingdom of Yugoslavia."
  4. ^ a b Lampe, John R. (2000) Yugoslavia as history: twice there was a country Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England, page 112, ISBN 0-521-77401-2
  5. ^ Gligorijević, Branislav (1979) Parliament i političke stranke u Jugoslaviji 1919–1929 Institut za savremenu istoriju, Narodna knjiga, Belgrade, page ??, OCLC 6420325
  6. ^ Balkan Politics, TIME Magazine, March 31, 1923
  7. ^ Elections, TIME Magazine, February 23, 1925
  8. ^ The Opposition, TIME Magazine, April 06, 1925
  9. ^ a b Group of Authors (1997). Istorijski atlas (1st ed.). Zavod za udžbenike i nastavna sredstva & Geokarta, Belgrade. p. 91. ISBN 86-17-05594-4.
  10. ^ Group of Authors (1997). Istorijski atlas (1st ed.). Zavod za udžbenike i nastavna sredstva & Geokarta, Belgrade. p. 86. ISBN 86-17-05594-4.

External links


Simple English

Redirecting to Yugoslavia








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