Slavia is a name designating Slavic regions; it is an expression of Pan-Slavic aspirations for uniting all the Slavs into one country, Slavia. Thence, Yugoslavia, South Slavia – a land of South Slavs (Yugoslavs). Slav– or Slov– are both roots of the same meaning, referring to the Slavic peoples.

Yugoslavia is a country established after the First World War, on 1 December 1918, as the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. The new country comprised the Kingdom of Serbia and Montenegro and the territories of Austro-Hungary populated by the South Slavs.

The idea of creating one common state of all the south Slavic nations was quite a live one throughout the 19th and in the early 20th century. Weakening of Turkey and strengthening of Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece rendered hope to the Slavic nations, otherwise discontent with their rights within the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

There were three different ideas about uniting the South Slavs. The first advocated a union of Serbia and Bulgaria; the second was expressed in the Načertanije, a document on the national foreign policy set out by Ilija Garašanin, referring to creating a state of the South Slavs; the third was advocated by Svetozar Miletić and was about creating a Balkan federation. There were also similar ideas among the South Slavs in Austro-Hungary. One stood for creating a Yugoslav region within the Austro-Hungarian empire (so it would become a “dual”, a “triple” or a “trialist” monarchy); the other idea was for creating an independent Yugoslav state.

Major opponents to uniting the South Slavs in a political field were Austro-Hungary, Italy and Vatican.

A prerequisite for the creation of the Yugoslav state was the break of the First World War. Serbian success in war operations on the side of the allies enabled those advocating unity to gain a favourable position in negotiations with the great forces. It was agreed that the future state would bear the name of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, that it would be a constitutional, democratic and parliamentary monarchy with the Karađorđević dynasty on the throne and that the Serbs, the Croats and the Slovenes were one nation of three names.

At the end of the Great War, Austro-Hungary broke apart. Srem, Banat, Baranja and Bačka became parts of Serbia. The Great Assembly in Podgorica passed a resolution that the Petrović-Njegoš dynasty was to be removed from the throne and Montenegro joined with Serbia. Then Bosnia and Herzegovina followed suit. It was decided in Zagreb that the Austro-Hungarian south Slavic regions (the state of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs) were to unite with Serbia into a new state.

From 1929, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was ruled by the Karadjordjević dynasty. The assassination of king Alexander in Marseille in 1934, by the hand of Croat and Bulgarian terrorists, predicted bloody events in Yugoslavia during the Second World War, when the invaders broke down the country into separate regions. Serbian population in the Nazi Independent State of Croatia suffered a genocide. The revolt against the occupying forces and Croatian ustasha, consisting primarily of Serbs and other Yugoslav peoples, turned into a civil war between the military troops loyal to King Peter I, the chetniks, and the partisans who were republicans and communist revolutionists. The partisans won, supported by the Soviets and Western Allies at the end of the war.

After the Second World War, Yugoslavia was under the rule of communists with Josip Broz Tito as its supreme leader. However, after his death, a process of breaking up started, to reach its culmination in a civil war, completely disintegrating Yugoslavia. The former republics, previously formed by the communists, seceded into separate states: Slovenia, Croatia and Macedonia. The 1995 Dayton Agreement turned Bosnia and Herzegovina into a Bosnian-Croatian Federation with the Republika Srpska, whilst Serbia and Montenegro remained in a joint state – the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The 2003 Declaration formed a state union of the Serbia and Montenegro, and in 2006, after a referendum in Montenegro, the union fell apart, so Serbia and Montenegro are now two independent republics.

The National Anthem of Yugoslavia between the two world wars consisted from the Serbian Anthem (Bože Pravde, God of Justice), the Croatian one (Lijepa naša domovino, Our Beautiful Homeland) and the Slovenian one (Naprej, zastavo slave, Forward, Flag of Glory). After the Second World War, the communists introduced a new Yugoslav Anthem, Hej, Sloveni, Hey Slavs, created in the first half of the 19th century in Slovakia and for a long time was an anthem of the Sokol (falcon) Movement, coloured with aspirations for cultural and political unity of Slavs and not only of those living in Austro-Hungary. The Polish National Anthem has almost the same tune. The Yugoslav National Anthem, Hej Sloveni, lyrics:

Hej, Sloveni, jošte živi
Duh naših dedova
Dok za narod srce bije
Njihovih sinova.

Živi, živi duh slovenski,
Živeće vekov’ma
Zalud preti ponor pakla,
Zalud vatra groma

Nek’ se sada i nad nama
Burom sve raznese
Stena puca, dub se lama,
Zemlja nek se trese

Mi stojimo postojano
Kano klisurine
Proklet bio izdajica
Svoje domovine!


Hey the Slavs! Our forefathers’ spirit still lives,
As long as their sons’ heart beats for the people.

It lives, the Slavic spirit lives, and will live for centuries,
The abyss of hell threatens in vain, the fire of thunder is in vain.

Now let everything above us be carried away by a storm.
The rock cracks, the oak breaks, let the ground shake.

We stand steadfastly like cliffs;
Let the traitor of his homeland be damned!