World War II and the Theme of Genocide in the Public Memory of Socialist Yugoslavia

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningfagfællebedømt

The internal Yugoslav massacres and genocide committed during the Second World War left the postwar Yugoslav state with a complicated legacy. How could the new authorities rebuild the country, drawing on the heroic memory of the victories of the communist-led partisans against the wartime occupiers and collaborators, while at the same time explaining the large-scale war crimes and genocide committed by Yugoslavs against other Yugoslavs? This article surveys the ways in which the internal Yugoslav war crimes were described and explained as part of public memory of the Second World War in Socialist Yugoslavia. It explores how the history of massacres and genocide coexisted with the glorious partisan myth and how the history of these massacres in a way contributed to creating a usable memory out of the Second World War. Moreover, it shows how wartime memory was profoundly changed when the history of internal Yugoslav massacres was increasingly understood as part of what Jasna Dragovic-Soso has called a ‘theme of genocide’ during the last decades of the socialist state. The article suggests that the thematisation may have been a logical and necessary rethinking of Second World War history. Yet, it also argues that the substantial revisiting of this history was sometimes accompanied by irresponsible manipulation which contributed to enabling highly problematic types of memory politics both during and after Yugoslavia's existence.
TidsskriftJournal of Modern European History
Udgave nummer2
Sider (fra-til)226–245
StatusUdgivet - 2024

ID: 387939369