From .......... Total History CD ROM ............ Widely availible.

Country: Yugoslavia

Book: Yugoslavia, A Country Study

Author: Patricia A. Kluck

Affiliation: HQ, Department of the Army Date: 1982

Chapter 2E. Religion

There were in Yugoslavia in the early 1980s some forty recognized religious communities. Most believers were Roman Catholics (Slovenes and Croats), Orthodox (Serbs, Montenegrins, and Macedonians), or Muslims (Bosnians, Albanians). A very rough estimate of the membership of each creed in the early 1970s would be: 30 percent Roman Catholics, 35 percent Serbian and Macedonian Orthodox, and 12 percent Muslim (see fig. 10). There were as well small pockets of Protestants in Vojvodina and Slavonia, scattered groups of Greek or Uniate Catholics, a few members of the Old Catholic Church, and a remnant of Yugoslavia's pre-World War II Jewish community. Finally, there were numerous small groups that did not conform to the common ethnic-religious pattern, e.g., Catholic Serbs on the Montenegrin coast and Catholic Albanians in Kosovo.

Religion has been a critical component in cultural and ethnic identity since the ninth-century conversion of many Slavs to Christianity. It was, however, a matter of family-based religious practice wherein doctrinal orthodoxy of any sort played a minor role. The Balkans-even before the Turkish onslaught-were at the fringe of the Christian world. From the perspective of Rome or Constantinople alike the region was the frontier, rife with heresies, its clergy largely uneducated and often poorly linked with general church organization, and a faithful too often in the throes of superstition.

Travelers' accounts through the nineteenth century attest to an ignorance of even the most rudimentary dogma and doctrine. There were reports of clergy in rural Bosnia who were unaware of the schism between the eastern and western Christian churches, ignorant of the Ten Commandments, and unable to recite the simplest prayers. ............................. From the Counter-Reformation onward, however, both Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism played central roles in rising Slav nationalism. Both religions had, beyond substantial doctrinal similarity, a number of points in common. In both churches the lower ranking clergy resisted the denationalizing efforts of their hierarchies (the Italian Vatican in the case of the Catholics and, until the late nineteenth century, the Greek Phanariots in that of the Serbian Orthodox). In the case of the Bosnian Muslims, religion was the defining element in ethnic identity. Their national consciousness developed in response to nineteenth-century Ottoman efforts to modernize, which the Bosnians opposed.

Religion's long-standing association with nationalism colored church-state relations into the early 1980s. A 1936 article by Tito suggested that Communists would do well to ignore the philosophical and theological differences separating themselves from religious adherents and concentrate on bettering "the hell on this earth, whose flames engulf believers and non-believers alike." The article long served as a justification for a pragmatic, tolerant approach to religion. Communist officials were at pains to point out that Marxist atheism was not antireligious. In their view religion would wither away, even as the bourgeois nationalist state would, with the progress of socialism. In the meantime a policy of "peaceful coexistence" was in order.

At the same time, the Communists came to power in circumstances that allowed little scope for tolerance of opposition forces and made blunting ethnic animosities paramount. Communists sought to break the power of the churches; this was less a Marxist commitment to "scientific atheism" than the belief that religion had fed the nationalistic hatreds that devastated Yugoslavia. Their determination was not simply to eliminate the political leverage of churches but to undermine their influence as well. The immediate post-World War II era was a difficult one for religious organizations. There were trials of major religious leaders, religious schools were closed, and clergy were harassed.

The situation eased considerably in the mid-1950s, and by 1959 the government could positively praise the Serbian Orthodox and the Muslim communities for their attitude toward socialist Yugoslavia. Officials were less effusive toward the Roman Catholics, but noted that they too recognized "the usefulness of maintaining normal relations with the government." In the late 1970s church-state relations were, if not a marriage made in heaven, at least relatively even. The top Yugoslav leadership made efforts to include believers within the framework for consensual decisionmaking in the post-Tito era. There was a general emphasis on unity and consensus.

Points of contention remained. Local-level communist officials were often less benign towards believers and clergy. Hardliners objected to the (in their view) relaxed official attitude toward the "opiate of the masses." Usually government judgments about religious activity reflected the general domestic situation; the churches' lot was easier as long as affairs in multinational Yugoslavia ran smoothly. Thus, for example, there was a period of unease associated with the general crackdown in Serbia and Croatia in the early 1970s. The issues affecting church-state relations varied from one religion to another, but the most persistent general concerns were children's right to religious instruction, discrimination against believers in public life, and the interdict against "political activity" on the part of clergy. ..................

[gee, I wonder why they would fear "political activity" on the part of clergy." ?? jp]

Roman Catholicism

The Roman Catholic Church remained without doubt the most comprehensively organized single religious community in Yugoslavia in the early 1980s. Catholic publications comprised more than two-thirds of the religious press; their readership dwarfed that of all other groups; and more than 80 percent of the country's theological faculties and seminaries were Roman Catholic. In part because of the hierarchy's ultramontane loyalties and, paradoxically, because of the church's intimate association with Croatian nationalism, Roman Catholicism's relationship to communist, multinational Yugoslavia was more difficult than that of other religious communities.

The Croats' Catholicism was part of their sense of being European and Western, while the Serbs were Byzantine and Eastern. Croats were accustomed, from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, to being part of the majority religion. More than this they saw themselves (for centuries) as the easternmost outpost of Christianity, defenders of the Holy Faith against the predations of infidel Muslim and schismatic Byzantine alike.

Catholic Croats formed a unified sociopolitical community in the interwar kingdom. [Roman] Catholicism was a central element in their political style, although it combined with anticlericalism in a way that made Croats view their neighboring Slovenes as priest-ridden. Stjepan Radic, charismatic leader of the Croatian Peasant Party in the 1920s, would open political rallies with "Praise be to Jesus, down with the clergy."

By contrast clergy played a prominent role in Slovenian interwar politics. Catholic clergy had been critical in the nineteenth-century agrarian reform movement. Catholicism was linked to Slovenian nationalism, but it neither foreclosed Slovenian participation in the Serb-dominated kingdom nor fed into a sense of cultural superiority as Catholicism seemed to. Catholicism was pastoral and pragmatic in Slovenia. At least the lower ranking Slovenian clergy were active in the Partisans; the Catholic church in Slovenia fared concomitantly better under communist rule than its Croatian counterpart.

Catholicism's association with the Croatian fascist state and its connection with nationalistic sentiment meant hard times early in the post-World War II era. The deportation of thousands of Serbs, the wholesale slaughter of others, a program of forced (if selective) conversion of Orthodox to Roman Catholicism, policies that ranged from ethnocide to genocide by a fascist regime claiming that its "whole work is based on fidelity to the church and the Catholic faith . . ." could hardly fail to have a deleterious impact on church - state relations - the Catholic hierarchy's disavowal of ustasa policies notwithstanding.

The 1946 trial of Alojzije Stepinac, archbishop of Zagreb during World War II, set the tone of relations between the Catholic church and the communist regime. The regime accused the archbishop of supporting the Croatian fascist state and encouraging ustasa resistance after the communist takeover. The issues and evidence surrounding the trial were complex, and as of mid-1981 the entire court transcripts had not been published. The trial itself and Stepinac's sentence to sixteen years at hard labor (he was released and permitted to live in his native village in 1951) along with the Vatican's subsequent naming him a cardinal (1952) blighted Vatican-Yugoslav relations at least until the cardinal's death in 1960. Arguments about Stepinac's guilt or innocence continued into the 1980s.

Throughout the 1950s relations between the regime and the church were strained. Nonetheless the 1953 Law on the Status of Religious Communities guaranteed freedom of religion and marked the beginning of a gradual improvement in church-state relations. The regime permitted Cardinal Stepinac to be buried from the Zagreb cathedral with the full honors due an archbishop a gesture that did much to dissipate the bitterness surrounding his trial and imprisonment.

[shoulda hung the monster in 1945 jp]

The situation of the Roman Catholic Church improved further in the 1960s. In 1966 the government and the Vatican signed the Protocol of Discussions between the Representatives of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Representative of the Holy See. The protocol recognized the Vatican's jurisdiction (within the limits of Yugoslav law) in the ecclesiastical affairs of the Roman Catholic Church, guaranteed the rights of believers to practice their faith (again within the law's limits), and acknowledged the government's prohibitions on political activity on the clergy's part.

Except for a brief period during the Croatian crisis early in the decade, relations between the Catholic community and the government were even throughout the 1970s. A 1980 meeting between Pope John Paul II and Yugoslav President Cvijetin Mijatovic confirmed the success with which the 1966 protocol had been implemented. A new round of polemics in early 1981 took observers by surprise. This exchange began with a sharp attack on the Croatian Roman Catholic Church for its "oppositional and nationalistic activities," and escalated to include renewed charges against the Catholic hierarchy for its complicity with the World War II Croatian fascist state. In part officialdom was concerned that the Catholics of Croatia not project "the Polish situation upon our social reality."

The authorities also took strong exception to an October 1980 petition for amnesty for political prisoners that was signed by (among others) two Croatian Catholic priests. Archbishop Franjo Kuharic of Zagreb demanded that political prisoners be allowed to see a priest. Thereafter the Yugoslav Bishops' Conference in May 1981 entered the fray to complain about discrimination against believers.

Serbian Orthodox Church

Orthodoxy played a role in defining Serbian consciousness comparable to that of Roman Catholicism in Croatia. ................ The church was decimated in World War II both in Serbia under Nazi control and in Croatia under the puppet fascist [Roman Catholic jp] regime. The Nazis rapidly interned a number of bishops and metropolitans and curtailed the movements of those who remained at liberty. The strain on church organization was made worse by the influx of Serbian refugees from Croatia. [thanks to USA, repeated in 1994 jp]

The Orthodox followers suffered in the ustase's systematic campaign to "Croatize" the state. Nearly two-thirds of all Orthodox priests were deported, and most of those who remained were killed in ustasa pogroms. Perhaps one-quarter of all churches and monasteries were destroyed. Orthodox faithful were subject to forced conversion to Roman Catholicism (..... some Roman Catholic bullshit deleted jp ........), though significantly anyone who might remotely be construed as a Serbian leader, i.e., anyone who was not a peasant - was not permitted to convert. ......................

Dedijer, Vladimir. The Battle Stalin Lost: Memoirs of Yugoslavia, 1948-1953. Grosset and Dunlap, 1972.

Dedijer, Vladimir, et al. History of Yugoslavia. McGraw-Hill, 1974.

Dedijer, Vladimir. The Yugoslav Auschwitz and the Vatican Not in CD list of books, but availible via Promethus Books- [700 E. Amherst St., Buffalo, NY 14215 1-716-837-2475]

Manhattan, Avro - The Vatican's Holocaust Not in CD list of books, but availible via Ozark Books- [Box 3703, Springfield, MO 65808]

Paris, Edmond - Convert or Die ! : Catholic Persecution in Yugoslavia During World War II. Not in CD list of books, but availible via Chick Publications- [POBox 662, Chino, CA 91708-0662]


Country: Yugoslavia

Book: Yugoslavia, A Country Study

Author: Vlad Georgescu

Affiliation: HQ, Department of the Army Date: 1982

Chapter 1B. The Yugoslav Movement and World War

"In the late 1800s Germany's Prince Otto von Bismarck predicted that "some damned foolish thing in the Balkans" would trigger the next European war. The assassination of Archduke Franz-Ferdinand on June 28, 1914, resulted in a series of foolish things. The Austrians [a Roman Catholic cult dominated nation] issued an ultimatum to Serbia that would have resulted in Austria's absorption of Serbia.

Germany announced its support to Austria; Russia, its support of Serbia.

On July 28 Austria attacked Serbia, and within days World War I was under way. ..................

Alexander supposedly was moved by patriotic feelings and by a desire to put an end to the inefficient party system, but his dictatorship had more negative than positive results. The Croats became even more suspicious of Belgrade's intentions, and the leaders of the extreme separatist group, the ustase (see Glossary), fled the country, seeking help from Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria, and later Germany for their fascistic and anti-Yugoslav activities. In September 1931 the king officially put an end to his personal dictatorship and issued a new constitution.

Some degree of parliamentary activity was permitted again, but most of the former authoritarian laws remained in force, giving Alexander control over the entire political system. In practice his dictatorship weakened the Serbian political parties while strengthening the non-Serbian ones. The Croatian Republican Party, the Slovenian Populist Party, and the Yugoslav Muslim Organization attracted many voters and became important factors in the political life of the 1930s.........................

Alexander's most difficult diplomatic relations were those with Italy, which the Yugoslavs then considered their main enemy. The king tried to come to an understanding with the fascist state, but Italian dictator Benito Mussolini consistently refused to improve his relations with Belgrade, throwing his support to the Croatian ustase [Ustashi or Ustashe].

The Regency (1934-41)

On October 9, 1934, on his arrival in Marseille, France, the king was assassinated by members of IMRO, who reportedly were in the pay of the ustase.

[By France, the Ustashe leader, Ante Pavelic, was officially convicted of this crime, in abstentia. jp]

Peter II Karadjordjevic was only eleven years old when his father was assassinated, and in accordance with Alexander's will, his cousin, Prince Paul, was appointed regent. Elections were held in May 1935, and a new government was formed under the premiership of Milan Stojadinovic, the leader of a large coalition of Serbian radicals, Slovene populists, and Muslims. Stojadinovic embarked on a new foreign policy, moving closer to Italy and Germany and rejecting a 1937 French offer of a mutual assistance pact.

The same year Yugoslavia signed treaties with Bulgaria and Italy. Mussolini pledged to respect Yugoslavia's territorial integrity and not to tolerate any anti-Yugoslav activities in Italy, a clause particularly important because ustase were operating mostly from Italian territory and under Mussolini's protection. In return for these promises, which the Fascists never actually respected, Yugoslavia accepted Italy's claims in Albania.

Stojadinovic, whom Italy's Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano called a Fascist "by virtue of his conception of authority of the state and of life," also tried to improve relations with Hitler, with whom he had talks in 1937. Unpopular at home, Stojadinovic was replaced in 1939 by Dragisa Cvetcovic. The most important achievement of the new prime minister was to come to an agreement with the Croatian Republican Party, signed on August 26, 1939. The opening paragraph declared that "Yugoslavia is the best guarantee of the independence and progress of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes."

Croatia, Dalmatia, and seven other districts having predominantly Croatian populations were united into a new province that was given a separate legislature and extensive autonomy in fiscal and administrative matters. Macek became vice prime minister, and a new Cvetcovic-Macek government was formed to lead a country more stable internally but facing an extremely dangerous external situation.

In June 1939 Prince Paul visited Berlin, and Hitler wasted no time in expressing his dissatisfaction with Yugoslavia's foreign policy. Hitler suggested a withdrawal from the League of Nations as well as adherence to the Anticomintern Pact that had been concluded in 1937 by Germany, Japan, and Italy. The Yugoslavs refused, but after the beginning of World War II in September their chances of remaining neutral diminished considerably.

With the defeat of France in May 1940, Yugoslavia was left at the mercy of the Axis Powers. An attempt at establishing closer relations with the Soviet Union failed, mainly because Stalin and Hitler were temporary allies.

When Italy attacked Greece, the Yugoslav government did what it could to help its ally, hoping that the British would send troops to the Balkans as they had done in World War I. The British had enough problems defending themselves, however, and the Yugoslavs were left alone when Hitler invited them for new talks in Salzburg in February 1941. Cvetcovic and his foreign minister were asked again to join the Anticomintern Pact, and having practically no other alternative Prince Paul was forced to accept what amounted to an ultimatum. On March 25 in Vienna, the Yugoslav prime minister signed the protocol making his country a member of the Nazi camp.

In Belgrade the news of the event evoked a strong reaction by the public and the army. On March 26-27 a group of officers staged a coup, arrested the government, deposed the regent, and proclaimed Peter II king. General of the Army Dusan Simovic as the new prime minister declared that his government would respect "the protocol signed on the 25th of this month in Vienna," but he added that Yugoslavia "will insist in the most determined fashion on not being drawn into the present conflict." On April 6, without any declaration of war, the Axis Powers attacked Yugoslavia.

[---------------------] Country: Yugoslavia

Book: Yugoslavia, A Country Study

Author: Vlad Georgescu

Affiliation: HQ, Department of the Army Date: 1982

Chapter 1C. The War: Occupation and Resistance

The royal army was ill prepared for war; its thirty divisions were no match for the fifty-two German, Italian, and Hungarian invading divisions, of which two-fifths were armored and fully motorized. The plans of the Yugoslav general staff were outdated. They focused solely on the possibility of an attack from the north; the plans called for a gradual retreat toward the central part of the country and toward Greece and assumed that the army would be able to organize a prolonged resistance in the mountainous areas and that the link with Greece and the vital port of Salonika would be kept open.

These plans proved to be wrong. The war started with a massive air strike against Belgrade on April 6 and a land attack from Bulgaria into Macedonia on April 7. German forces converged on Belgrade from both north and south, while other divisions entered Croatia from Austria and Hungary, advancing toward Zagreb. The Italians attacked Slovenia and the entire Dalmatian Coast. On April 15 the Yugoslav Supreme Command was captured near Sarajevo, and on April 17 Yugoslavia surrendered unconditionally.

The country was partitioned among the Axis Powers except for Croatia, which became an "independent" state (see fig. 7). Germany annexed northern Slovenia and placed Serbia and the Banat under its direct military authority. In Serbia the Germans used General Milan Nedic, a former minister of war, to form a quisling government to handle everyday administration. Italy was awarded southern Slovenia, including Ljubljana, Dalmatia, and the Gulf of Kotor region; its vassal kingdom of Albania was given most of the Kosovo area. Montenegro was placed under Italian administration. Bulgaria received southeastern Macedonia, eastern Serbia, and the remaining part of Kosovo. Hungary got most of Vojvodina.

An independent state of Croatia had been proclaimed by the ustase just hours before the entry of the Germans into Zagreb, and Ante Pavelic was flown in from Italy a few days later to become its leader(poglavnik). Most of Dalmatia remained outside the puppet state, but Bosnia and Hercegovina were included in its borders.

Almost one-third of the estimated 6,300,000 inhabitants were Serbs, and from the beginning the ustase adopted an anti-Serb policy of massacres, expulsions, and forced conversions to [Roman] Catholicism.

Concentration camps were established for Serbs, Jews, and Croatian democrats. Although independent in theory, the country was divided into two military zones-one German, another Italian-and placed under joint military occupation. For all practical purposes the Croatian government and its army (the Domobrans) were under German and Italian control. The Italian duke of Spoleto was proclaimed king under the name of Tomislav II, but he never set foot on Croatian soil, and during the entire war the puppet state remained under Pavelic's fascist control.

To enforce the "dictatorship of the proletariat" the party embarked on a policy of fierce repression, striking all opponents, from former collaborators to former "fellow travelers," who had cooperated with Tito in the past but were now questioning his policy. It is not possible to establish the exact number of people arrested and/or eliminated during this period by the Department for the Protection of the People; but in 1951 Aleksandar Rankovic, in charge of the security service and secret police, admitted that in 1949 (a rather mild year compared to the 1945-48 period) 41 percent of the arrests had been unjustified and 23 percent had been for crimes of "minor importance." He further admitted that the courts had "converted ordinary crimes into political offenses" and that many defendants had been deprived wrongly of their liberty.

Much of the party's wrath fell on churches because of their long and close association with ethnic divisiveness in Yugoslavia. The Serbian Orthodox Church, the persecution it suffered at the hands of the Nazis and the ustase notwithstanding, suffered from government policies. The church lost land, and schools, convents, and monasteries were closed; clergy were harassed as they attempted to visit parishes and attend to church matters.

The Roman Catholic Church of Croatia had welcomed the creation of the ustasa state, and the Catholic archbishop, Alojzije Stepinac, had only halfheartedly voiced opposition to the vicious practices of the ustase. After 1942 he began denouncing more openly the ustasa atrocities against the Serbs, but he continued nevertheless to defend the existence of the puppet state, even calling it the fulfillment of "dreams of centuries." When the Partisans came to power he made no secret of his anticommunist convictions and continuously denounced the persecution that he asserted the Catholics were subjected to by the secret police. This defiant attitude led to his arrest in 1946; charged with treason, the archbishop was sentenced to sixteen years of hard labor (see Religion, ch. 2). .................................... For an English-language presentation of Yugoslav history in a general southeast European context, the interested reader might consult Robert Wolff's The Balkans in Our Time. Among the many histories of Yugoslavia, Stephen Clissold's A Short History of Yugoslavia and Vladimir Dedijer's History of Yugoslavia are among the more useful. Jozo Tomasevich's Peasants, Politics, and Economic Change in Yugoslavia and War and Revolution in Yugoslavia: 1941-45: The Cetniks are excellent presentations of the economic, political and military problems facing Yugoslavia from its creation to the end of World War II.

The bibliography on Tito's Yugoslavia is immense; aspects of Belgrade's position are set forth in Dedijer's Tito Speaks and The Battle Stalin Lost; Milovan Djilas' Tito: The Story from Inside is a fascinating though not always balanced biography of the Yugoslav leader by the famous dissident. For excellent general presentations George Hoffman and Fred Neal's Yugoslavia and the New Communism, Dennison Rusinow's The Yugoslav Experiment, and Sir Duncan Wilson's Tito's Yugoslavia merit careful attention. (For further information see Bibliography.)