History of Bosnia and Herzegovina Part III

The shots in Sarajevo

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mlada Bosna (‘Young Bosnia’) gathered students with Yugoslav (South Slavic) orientation. Serbia’s victories against the Turks during the Balkan War in 1912 increased the pro-Serbian and anti-Austrian sentiments in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Tensions between Serbia and Austria-Hungary increased in 1913. When Austria-Hungary carried out major military maneuvers and the heir to the throne Archduke Franz Ferdinand visited Bosnia-Herzegovina on the “holy” of the Serbs on June 28, 1914 (the day of the Kosovo Battle in 1389). along with his maid of honor by the young student Gavrilo Princip. The attack was later known as the shootings in Sarajevo. Declared a month later Austria-Hungary war against Serbia.

During World War I, Bosnian soldiers fought on the Austrians’ side, but many Serbs signed up as volunteers on the Serbian side. The Austrians fought hard against “Serbian nationalists”. Many Bosnian politicians supported the idea of ​​creating their own South Slavic unit within Austria-Hungary, others supported their own South Slavic state. When Austria-Hungary lost the war and the monarchy was dissolved, the Bosnian National Council chose to enter the new South Slavic state, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later called Yugoslavia ), which was proclaimed on December 1, 1918.


The Uzas introduced a terrorist regime and massacred tens of thousands of Serbs and most of Bosnia’s 14,000 Jews. The photo shows Ustasja soldiers searching prisoners in the Jasenovac concentration camp during World War II.

Part of Yugoslavia

After the assault on the Muslim population and the implementation of land reform, an emigration wave followed Turkey in 1919. In the interwar period, the political interests of the Muslims were safeguarded by the party of the Yugoslav Muslim Organization, led by Mehmed Spaho. The Party wanted Bosnia-Herzegovina to be a self-governing entity within the new state, but Yugoslavia (called the state from 1929) was instead heavily centralized from Belgrade and dominated by the Serbs. By the Serbian-Croat Agreement in 1939, when Croatia gained extensive autonomy, Bosnia-Herzegovina was divided.

When Yugoslavia was occupied by Germany and Italy in April 1941, during World War II, Bosnia-Herzegovina was incorporated into the fascist Croatian state of Ustasja, the independent state of Croatia. The Uzas introduced a terrorist regime and massacred tens of thousands of Serbs. Most of Bosnia’s 14,000 Jews were killed. Many Muslims were killed by Serbian nationalists.

In all, it is estimated that the Serbs had about 190,000 war victims, while the Croats and Muslims had about 75,000 each. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, two opposition movements operated against each other, the Serbian-nationalist Chetniks under Draža Mihajlović and the Communist partisans under Josip Broz Tito. Sarajevo was liberated by the partisans on April 6, 1945.

The period 1945–1990

Tito made Bosnia-Herzegovina one of six sub-republics in socialist Yugoslavia. For the first time, the Tito regime was Stalinist. Religion, especially Islam, was pursued, and it was not until the 1960s that the Bosnian Muslims were allowed to exercise their religious and cultural uniqueness. After World War II, heavy industry was developed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but the Republic was still among the poorest in Yugoslavia. Next to Kosovo, in the 1970s, Bosnia and Herzegovina had the highest infant mortality rate, the lowest level of education, the highest illiteracy rate and the lowest proportion of urban population. Bosnia and Herzegovina had great emigration to other republics, especially Serbia.

After Tito’s death in 1980, a dogmatic Communist Party was in power in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Communist Party intervened against Muslim activists in 1983, when 13 Muslims, including Alija Izetbegović, were sentenced to long sentences. In the 1980s, the economic crisis was also very strong in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Josip Tito. Photo from the 1950s.

Bosnian war

In 1992, the Yugoslav state was dissolved. The wars in Bosnia-Herzegovina between Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks in 1992–1995 were about which group should have control over the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The war ended in the Dayton Agreement.

The settlement of war criminals has been central, and has been handled by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Political life has been marked by the struggle between the UN High Representative’s integrative efforts and the leaders of the nationally-oriented parties among Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats. Serbs and Croats in the country are massively voting for parties who want a strong degree of ethnically based autonomy. In 2013, the introduction of new ID cards was crippled by the fact that politicians did not agree on whether the social security number should indicate which entity the person belongs to.