A Brief History of The War in Croatia – Background, Battlefields and Outcomes

Vukovar, Croatia 1991 - brutally devastated from Serb aggression

Vukovar, Croatia 1991 – brutally devastated from Serb aggression

Recently this blog received a request from readers and bloggers for a post on what started the war in Croatia in the 1990’s, explaining that perhaps many ordinary Americans understand very little about it. As the subject is complex an article can hardly give it detail justice but it is hoped that this post (with links inserted for further references) will bring the knowledge of facts closer to those who wish to understand and know more. I am grateful to two readers of this blog who helped me a great deal to put this article together in order for it to be published as soon as possible. Ina Vukic.


To understand Croatia’s war in the 1990s, one needs to understand the historical background, as well as geopolitical interests of the international community, neighbours and international powers – and all of those interests before, during and after the war, as well as in the future.

Croatia was, and still is, the hottest piece of geographic real estate in Europe. Croatia is the gateway between north, south, east and west in Europe. Therefore, it is no surprise that two of the worlds’ largest empires expanded onto Croatian territory, namely the Austro-Hungarian (Hapsburg) Empire and the Ottoman Empire. Smaller powers also coveted Croatian territory, for instance, Serbia and Venice – and later the Italian state.

It must be noted that Croatia joined in union with Hungary first, in 1102, with its arrangement changing with Hungary’s union with Austria.

Croatia’s position within the Hapsburg Empire, which it joined in 1527 (later Austria Hungary), was one of continual de jure statehood and self-rule within empire and with Hungary, albeit with varying degrees of de facto statehood and self-rule shifting within the context of the Austrian-Hungarian power struggles, coupled with external pressure (the Ottomans).

Croatia was continually trying to not only reclaim historical territory, but also gain equal legal and political footing with both Austria and Hungary, joining either one or the other in internal political struggles; with either Austria or Hungary aligning with political actors within Croatia, to and include the Serb minority, whom the Austrians began settling in Croatia without Croatian consent beginning in 1533, who over the centuries were used as a political hammer against Croats by both the Austrians and Hungarians.
Croatia’s history is a long and complicated one.

However the war in the 1990s is traced directly to Croatia’s entry into both Yugoslavias.

The first Yugoslavia was the end objective outlined by the state of Serbia which entailed the domination of Croatia and Croats by Serbia, outlined in 1833 by Serbian Minister of the Interior Ilja Garasanin.

Croats in the first Yugoslavia were second class citizens in an occupied country. Serbian state sponsored violence and terrorism enforced nationalist Serbian policies, which were economically exploitive of Croatia.
This state terrorism culminated with the assassination of the pacifist Croatian politician Stjepan Radic, Croatian Peasant Party head, in Parliament while in session in 1928. The CPP had the overwhelming support of Croats inside and outside of Croatia proper before, during and after Radic’s death, through to WWII.

The Serbian “King” Aleksandar Karadjordjevic (who married United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen Victoria’s great-granddaughter Princess Maria of Romania) declared a royal dictatorship in 1929 – a day later the Ustasha movement (UHRO) formed under Ante Pavelic, the Croatian Party of Rights leader who personally witnessed the state murder of Radic. The repression became worse, leading to over 30,000 political arrests of mostly Croats, and, the emigration of tens of thousands of Croats over the next decade.

With the rise of Adolf Hitler, Western powers were looking to keep Germany in check in the 1930s. They looked to the now renamed Kingdom of Yugoslavia to do so.

However the Croatian question was still festering. Despite Albert Einstein and Heinrich Mann’s denunciation of state-sponsored terrorism in Yugoslavia,  the repression of Croats, and their open call for Croatian independence, no Western democracy called for any pressure against Belgrade for their imperialism.

A Croat-Serb detente was reached in the late 1930s, known as The Sporazum, and granted Croats’ territorial self-rule. Greater Serbian nationalists, who were not just the voting majority amongst Serbs, but the secret police and military heads, derided it. Their pathological hatred of the 1938 Agreement was the main factor for supporting the British sponsored anti-Axis coup in 1941 following the treaty between Yugoslavia and Germany.

With the German invasion, Serbian gendarmes and Yugoslav Army forces, as well as local Chetnik bandits (who were operating in Croatia since 1918) began massacring Croats and Muslims while fleeing the advancing Germans – the first massacre taking place in Bjelovar, before the Independent State of Croatia was even declared. It is in this context that the Italians, who had ambitions for Croatia’s coast, together with the Germans, put Ante Pavelic into power in May 1941.

Except for communist partisans, Croats welcomed the fall of Yugoslavia – they all had every reason to.

It must be noted that not a single Western agent or politician offered the Croats any statehood or recognition prior to, or during WWII.

With the massacres by the fleeing Serbian Gendarmes, the Yugoslav Army, and Chetnik bandits, as well as the ultra-nationalist and genocidal Chetnik movement openly carrying out the Homogeneous Serbia  plan through mass murder and village torching, Croats were left with two choices in WWII: a) Join the Communist led Partisans and fight for a Communist Yugoslavia, which was the declared goal of the Partisans, which for many under direct Italian occupation and genocide was a live or die necessity or b) Join the Croatian Ustashe or Homeguard forces (regular army) and fight for a free (at least in terms of statehood) Croatia.
WWII was a very complicated,  and for Croatia, impossible situation full of Faustian choices.

In the end, the Allies won WWII and the Communist Partisans took over Croatia and all the territory that was the first Yugoslav Kingdom. The Communist “liberation” saw hundreds of thousands of Croatians killed without trial, death marches, the imprisonment and internment of over 1.2 million Yugoslav citizens (the bulk of them Croatian), and one-party rule under the dictator Josip Broz Tito whom the Yugoslav state controlled media and Communist intelligentsia created a bizarre cult of personality worship for. Communist crimes are swept under the carpet while crimes perpetrated as part of the Holocaust saturated the history books, media, daily lives, courts …

In the second Yugoslavia, Croatia saw a continuation of the same cultural imperialism of the first Yugoslavia, and the concept of “Yugoslav” was the same as before, it was supra-nationalist code for Serbian. The 1954 Novi Sad Language Agreement standardized the use of Serbian under the red herring of Serbo-Croatian.
Yugoslavia was a failed economic model. The first reason was that the economy itself was propped up on foreign credit, thanks in part due to Tito’s rejection of Joseph Stalin, which gained him Western support as the Cold War was ongoing. The lavish credits from the West (and USSR, which also payed Tito to stay neutral) was poorly reinvested into the Yugoslav economy, which was run by unqualified Communists who were mostly given positions due to party membership, not technical knowledge of anything.
The second reason was that, by the 1980s, even the Communists estimated that the work force was 40 percent “ghost,” meaning non-productive.
The third reason is that basic infrastructure and long-term projects were rejected out of entirely political reasons, the Zagreb-Split highway for instance, a critical development project, was rejected for fears of Croatian economic development which could in turn mean more Croatian calls for autonomy, or more influence within Yugoslavia, if not help lead to independence, despite more tourist revenues meaning more money for the central government which was through various legal and illegal means, siphoning Croatia’s and Slovenia’s revenues disproportionately through higher tax rates and state-owned schemes.
This failed economic model was compounded by the failed political model, which led to the inevitable failure of the state.
The one-party system was backwards, as were its leaders. The political system Tito led mimicked that of the Austro-Hungarians before him – a carrot and stick approach playing various nations and or minorities off of each other to maintain a status quo of power.
The biggest disruption came with the Croatian Spring,  which was brutally repressed. As a consolidation, the 1974 Constitution was passed, and it, on paper, met some of the Croats’ demands, namely of more autonomy, and it gave Vojvodina and Kosovo (within Serbia) autonomy as well.
Tito’s death in 1980 coincided with the decline of the USSR.
Yugoslavia was no longer important because the USSR was fading into oblivion. Credits were not being pumped into it, but were being called. This caused a domino effect within the painted rust that was the entirely mismanaged and gravely grafted Yugoslav economy which was now faced with paying off lavish loans with an economy that could not even theoretically meet even the most generous payment plans.
With Tito gone and inflation out of control, the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences (SANU) wrote, and the Serbian media published in 1986, the SANU Memorandum,  which was a hysterical, victim-centred propaganda text that not only brought up nearly every single nationalist Serb myth, but also several Communist myths, demonising Croats, Slovenes and Albanians in particular, and more or less openly threatened all non-Serbs with a not-very-coded ‘surrender to our will or suffer the consequences’ message.
It was in this context of Serbian nationalist hysteria, fully flamed, supported and repeated by the Serbian Orthodox Church, Serbian media, Serbian Communists (inside Serbia and outside of it in neighbouring Croatia), and Serbian intelligentsia, that Slobodan Milosevic rose to power.
In a carefully scripted “spontaneous event,” Milosevic told a crowd of rioting Serbs attacking mixed Albanian and Serb Kosovar police in Pristina in 1987 “No one has the right to beat you…. No one will beat you ever.” He instantly became a star and the Serbian media lionized him as the saviour of Serbs.
Milosevic was an opportunist. He sought to centralize Yugoslavia and basically create a Serboslavia using legal and quasi-legal means.
Pressure was put on all of the other republics to meet Serbia’s demand for a unitarist state with no checks and balances and one-man, one-vote deciding who rules the centralised Yugoslav state.
Non-Serbs met this with political opposition.
So Milosevic and Serbia’s intelligence services organised “spontaneous gatherings of the people,” and “happenings of the people” where Serbs would be bussed in to ‘inform’ non-Serbs about the threats facing Serbdom in their Republics and towns (the current so-called ‘Bosniak Spring’ is following the same exact model, with the 14 year attempt to achieve centralisation through legal and quasi-legal means failing, they are turning to staged demonstrations under a false narrative following Milosevic’s playbook).
Between 1987 and 1990, he orchestrated the overthrow of the Montenegrin, Kosovar, and Vojvodina governments (with Kosovo and Vojvodina autonomy abolished in the 1990 Serbian Constitution) and installed people loyal to him – known as the ‘anti-bureaucratic revolution’ colloquially, and the overthrow of the Vojvodina government, the ‘Yogurt Revolution.’
The problem was that each of them had a vote in the collective Yugoslav presidency and by overthrowing and controlling each of those governments, he had half of the Yugoslav collective presidency in his pocket.
Beginning in 1988, Milosevic and Serbian intelligence, as well as senior Serbian General Staff officers in the Yugoslav People’s Army, were beginning to arm Croatian Serbs, and in 1989, followed suit in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) with Bosnian Serbs.
The 1990’s wars in Croatia and B&H were pre-planned in Belgrade.
It must be noted that there was really little opposition to Milosevic’s rise in the West. Media in the West, in fact, praised him as a reformer due to his ‘anti-bureaucratic’ message.
While there was opposition to his racist, neo-apartheid policy in Kosovo by certain US Senators, there was no real action by the US or by the UN to punish Milosevic and Serbia in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Milosevic’s media propaganda message was effective not just in Serbia, but also in the West.
Being that most foreign journalists were in Yugoslavia’s capital Belgrade, something that remained such for a good part of the 1990s, they were wined and dined by Milosevic’s government, bombarded with a sea of lies by pro-Milosevic journalists and academics and their circles, and fed misinformation by Serbian intelligence and counterintelligence planted releases and press releases.
So the media narrative in the west was not the facts-on-the-ground: out of control greater Serbian nationalism, the SANU Memorandum, Serbs’ under Milosevic trampling the 1974 Constitution, but rather Serbian media narratives – “Ustasha” revival, Croatia’s Franjo Tudjman is the new Ante Pavelic, Serbs are a “threatened people,” Croatia’s Constitution is “discriminatory,” etc.
A key part of Serbia’s propaganda was equating responsibility for what was, and remains, clearly a formal, state policy of Serbia of destabilising and waging genocidal aggression against its neighbours.
Western journalists and ambassadors would be reading and hearing in Belgrade about “Croatian and Serb nationalists at each other’s throats, Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) has to separate the warring parties,” with no mention of those Serbian nationalists being organised and armed by the JNA almost two years before the first free elections in Croatia (1990), and ‘separating’ them to consolidate Serbian territorial gains – all reporting the contradictory Belgrade line as fact.
The reason is manifold. With the imminent fall of Communism, amongst many Western governments and intelligence agencies were WWII veterans – all had a subliminal fear of an eventually united Germany, and saw Yugoslavia as some sort of a bulwark against it (despite it being crushed by Germany, and the advance of the Soviet forces into Yugoslavia being the only reason the Partisans won WWII).
There was also the age old geopolitical factors that were combined with this, namely, traditional Russian, French, Dutch, US and especially UK support for Serbia and Yugoslavia whom they all saw Serbs as a guardians of.
Then there was the mythical fairy tale narrative that many opinion makers in left media and academia had about multi-ethnic Socialist Self-Managing Yugoslavia as if the economy was sustainable, and as if the government was not repressive and had not been engaging in spying and murdering its own citizens at home and abroad for 45 years.
Finally, there were personal interests involved, namely, that of Yugoslav Ambassador Lawrence Eagleburger and his colleague in the Bush Sr. administration, Brent Scowcroft, who were as the Washington Post reported in autumn of 1991, in a blatant conflict of interest with their personal business relationships with Crvena Zastava Arms, which was also illegally selling and shipping arms to Muammar Gadaffi’s Libya which was under a UN arms embargo.
This is something that the late and extremely great Dr. Jerry Blaskovich wrote extensively about in his book.

So it is no wonder that the policies of the US were that of equidistance when the ambassador to Yugoslavia in 1991 was a diplomatic and media gatekeeper  for Milosevic and his regime carefully shaping the diplomatic discourse and filtering messages to the US media.
These competing interests from outside Croatia in the international community helped shape their disastrous, ineffective and entirely beneficial-to-Milosevic policies, starting with the obscene arms embargo which guaranteed Serbian military supremacy over Croatia and B&H in terms of not just men, but equipment and operational capabilities that equipment and technology bring to the battlefield.

The Serb aggression against Croatia that commenced in 1991 – the horrendous battlefield of ethnic cleansing, mass murder, rape, concentration camps tantamount to genocidal actions and intents by Croatian rebel Serbs aided by Serbian-led Yugoslav People’s Army:

The sizable ethnic Serb minority in Croatia openly rejected the authority of the newly proclaimed democratic Croatian state and its Constitution citing the right to remain within Yugoslavia (Milosevic and Serbia’s leadership insisted that wherever Serbs lived they have a right to remain in Yugoslavia if they wanted to do so, despite the fact that in the case of Croatia they lived within the internationally defined and recognised borders of the sovereign state of Croatia). With the help of the Yugoslav People’s Army and Serbia, Croatian Serbs rebelled, declaring almost a third of Croatia’s territory under their control to be an independent Serb state. Croats and other non-Serbs were expelled from its territory in a violent campaign of ethnic cleansing. Heavy fighting in the second half of 1991 witnessed the shelling of the ancient city of Dubrovnik, and the siege and destruction of Vukovar by Serb forces.

In red: Serb occupied and ethnically cleansed of non-Serbs areas of Croatia 1991 - 1995

In red: Serb occupied and ethnically cleansed
of non-Serbs areas of Croatia 1991 – 1995

Croatian authorities were determined to assert authority over their own territory, and used its resources to develop and equip its armed forces. In the summer of 1995, the Croatian military undertook two major offensives (Operations Flash and Storm) to regain (liberate) all but a pocket of its territory known as Eastern Slavonia. In a major self-imposed exodus of August 1995, tens of thousands of Serbs fled the Croatian advance to Serb-held areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina and further to Serbia. The war in Croatia effectively ended in Autumn of 1995. Croatia eventually re-asserted its authority over the entire territory, with Eastern Slavonia reverting to its rule in January 1998 following a peaceful transition under UN-administration.

A Brief Timeline of events 1989 – 1995 (1998)

1989 – June – 2,000,000 Serbs listen to Milosevic’s speech in Kosovo, where Milosevic threatened the other Yugoslav republics that “armed conflict” is not ruled out by Serbs to achieve their goals of the centralisation of Yugoslavia.

1990 – May – Serb-led Yugoslav People’s Army seize the arms caches of the Territorial Defenses of Croatia and Bosnia Herzegovina, redistributes arms to Serb “defense committees” and other paramilitary and terrorist groups – violence against Croats and other non-Serbs in mixed areas of Croatia increases, thousands flee to other regions of Croatia for safety.

1990 – June – Serbs in the Dalmatia and Lika declare the: Autonomous Municipalities of Northern Dalmatia and Lika” in Croatia.

1991 – March – Serbia declares the mobilisation of Serbian special forces, Slobodan Milosevic declares on television that “Yugoslavia does not exist anymore.”

1991 – March – Croatian police are ambushed in Plitvice Lakes Croatia, one police officer is killed – attacks against Croats in mixed Serb-Croat areas drastically increases – Serb police and Yugoslav People’s Army troops do nothing to prevent or prosecute it.

1991 – April – Serb terrorists disarm Croatian police in the town of Pakrac – the Yugoslav People’s Army, after distributing arms to Serbian terrorists there, moves in to Pakrac to “separate the warring factions,” essentially consolidating Serb territorial gains – Yugoslav People’s Army begins openly siding with the Serb terrorists in Croatia and ethnically cleansing non-Serbs and Croatia-loyal, democratic Serbs from areas that Serb ultra-nationalists claim to be part of “Greater Serbia.”

1991 – May – Ultra-nationalist Serbs hold a sham election in Croatia and declare union with Serbia.

1991 – May – In response to Serb attacks and the terrorist activities of ultra-nationalist Serbs, 86% of eligible Croatian citizens take part in a referendum on independence, with 94% favouring it.

1991 – June – Croatia declares independence from communist Yugoslavia immediately after Slovenia did the same.

1991 – August – The siege of the Croatian city of Vukovar begins as Serbian armed forces, along with the Serb-dominated Yugoslav People’s Army, begin an open scorched earth and ethnic cleansing policy in areas under their control, and begin savage attacks against free Croatian towns, villages and hamlets, in an attempt to cut Croatia off at four strategic points, and force Croatia to cede over 70% of its territory to Serbia.

1991 – November – The siege of Vukovar, which destroyed most of the city, ends – Serb forces massacre 261 hospital workers, and wounded soldiers taken from the hospital – Serb forces are filmed singing “Hey Slobo send us salad, there will be meat, we will slaughter the Croats” – no Western news agencies translated the song even after there was a complaint to BBC regarding this.

1992 – January – European Community peace negotiators are killed in Croatia after being attacked by a Serbian jet after a cease fire is declared between Croatia and Serbia and Croatian Serbs loyal to Milosevic’s regime in Croatia – Serbs violate the agreement and every subsequent agreement until Operation Storm by continuing ground, artillery and air attacks against Croatia – a total of 10,000 Croatian civilians were killed, 30,000 disabled (4,000 of them children) and almost 300,000 were ethnically cleansed with another 100,000 displaced by fleeing to areas out of Serb artillery and mortars. An additional 400 sick and elderly Croats were killed by Serb police, paramilitary and civilians in areas occupied by Serbian terrorists during the UN presence – not a single investigation was launched by Serb authorities. Croats are barred from returning, and Serbs repeatedly refuse peace negotiations that stipulate non-Serbs returning.
1995 –  May – Operation Flash/The Croatian army captured the self-declared Serb enclave of Western Slavonia in its first major bid to retake territories occupied in 1991. In reply the Croatian rebel Serbs launched a rocket attack on Zagreb, the Croatian capital. Milan Martic, Croatian Serb leader of rebel Serb forces, ordered the shelling of Zagreb, killing six people and wounding many.

1995 – June – Srebrenica in Eastern Bosnia falls to Bosnian Serb and regular Serbian army forces – about 8,000 Bosniak (Muslim) men and boys are slaughtered.
1995 – August – Operation Storm/After over four years of endless Serb attacks, with Bihac on the verge of becoming the next Srebrenica, Croatia began this liberation campaign of the Serb self-proclaimed “Krajina” region of Croatia (the US takes action and provides intelligence to Croatian Army as Serb aggression is obvious beyond a shadow of a doubt). This liberating offensive captured in days a region that Serb rebels had held for 4 years. Most of this Serb-occupied area was taken in a 3-day offensive.

Croatian Operation Storm 5 August 1995 Photo: MORH Ministry of defence Repubplic of Croatia (centre left: General Ante Gotovina, centre right: President Franjo Tudjman - standing above liberated town of Knin)

Croatian Operation Storm 5 August 1995 Photo: MORH Ministry of defence Repubplic of Croatia (centre left: General Ante Gotovina, centre right: President Franjo Tudjman – standing above liberated town of Knin)

1998 –  January – Eastern Slavonia part of Croatia was peacefully reintegrated into Croatia.
From the time of this reintegration Croatia has been faced with a different kind of war – the transition into democracy from the communist Yugoslavia totalitarian regime. Battles are and have been many in this sphere, often strewn with misinformation and anti-Croatian propaganda within Croatia and internationally. The future – self-determination, democracy and freedom – that Croatians defended at overwhelming costs to human life and living during the 1990’s war has not yet arrived. With truth and justice gaining their rightful place it will arrive eventually but not without determined pursuits of both, by all who truly want it.


  1. Thank you for the detailed timeline and history lesson, Ina. It is a very powerful read.

  2. That is a good history lesson but didn’t you miss out 1918? You went from 1333 to 1928 in the blink of an eye! Yugoslavia was formed as a result of the Versailles peace treaty under the name of Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. The country was named after South Slavic peoples as their first union ever, after centuries-long rules of the Ottoman Empire and Austria-Hungary. I accept that Serbia was the dominant power but is it really just a simple matter of Croatians beings forever subjugated?

    • Andrew, I love your attention to detail. The 1918 is in the link over first Yugoslavia, and yes perhaps I should have mentioned it just before writing about King Aleksandar Karadjordjevic as he was at the helm of it then and lobbied for it before WWI – the tragedy is that the Croatian Parliament did not ratify the union into the Kingdom then, a group called Croatian National Council by-passed the parliament and away Croatia went into a Serb-led kingdom and then came his dictatorship in 1929, he imposed it because of the widespread unrest etc. History does witness that Croatia has been subjugated ever since it lost its own King after 1102 and to think the Kingdom of Croatia under King Tomislav 10th Century was the strongest in Europe…

    • Master Jon says:

      Oh dear Andrew Petcher, indications are that it came handy for the Serb King when he lobbied for the expansion of his kingdom with European heavies before WWI to have a cousin through his wife in British King George V etc – masters of imperialism and expansion of other nations’ territory to draw riches from. I think even today that blood link however distant has power among English aristocracy etc… who are and were involved in quite a few decisions in the world …

      • … and elsewhere no doubt!

      • Yes Andrew Petcher – I think everywhere – what we see is like the tip of an iceberg, lots of wheeling and political dealing occurs that’s not visible to the eye. We can deduce, conclude, imagine, suspect … usually not far from the mark (?) Blood is after all thicker than water

  3. Thank you so very much for this terrific article. I wish I had read it before I visited Dubrovnik and Montenegro a few years ago. Blessings to all who helped put it together…

  4. Thanks for providing this history. It’s too much for me to take in one sitting Ina, but I will come back to it. 🙂

    • Yes Sarah, tried to make it as short as possible but still three times + longer than my regular posts – worth it though I trust.

      • Absolutely worth it but I’ve never had much stamina when it comes to reading factual prose. Sorry. I’ll be glad to learn more about the history of the troubles. After I started following your blog I meant to try to find more information on this but I never got around to it. Now I have no excuses! 😀

      • 😀 XX

  5. Thank you. Fascinating. I had heard it said that the Ustasche was simply Nazi, and you show how much more complicated the situation was. I am reminded of Finland, which was invaded in world war two by both Germany and Russia, losing Karelia to the latter. I am glad that a free Croatia is now part of the EU.

    • Thank you Clare, I guess history as we know it was written by often shady or politically bent historians, there are many of those today but thanks to the digital and electronic era history can be reviewed to reflect facts and truth as was.

  6. David Byler says:

    extraordinarily well written. accurate. powerful.

  7. Thank you for your time and this incredibly thoughtful well written post. So much tragedy, waste of live and property, the photo above is chilling but more so is the hatred that motivates and moves forward ethnic cleansing. Blessing to you. Paulette

  8. I keep learning….
    Great and bad post.
    Sometimes I hate being human…..

  9. Does the UN has any role in the conflict to achieve peace? l think the UN is a crippled entity.My regards and thank you for history lesson.Jalal

  10. Does the UN has any role in the conflict to achieve peace? l think the UN is a crippled entity.My regards and thank you for history lesson.Jalal

  11. therealamericro says:

    ; – )

  12. therealamericro says:

    I would have to add that the peaceful reintegration of Vukovar and Podunavlje was due to fear of Croatian military might.

    An interesting and soul-food belly filling reminiscance by Gen. Jacques Klein: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvK1M3zgyYs

    I would also add that 70,000 Serbs voluntarily left Podunavlje after Erdut was signed.

    Klein on Tudman the Statesman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hTi33KEyYk

  13. I believe I had most of this history correct in my head, but thanks for putting everything into perspective – better to understand today’s activities.

  14. This is an outstanding post! I’m sorry it took me a while to finish, but now that I’m done, I am clicking like because it is very detailed and broken down in such a way to be very understandable for the reader. This was a great deal of work no doubt, and well worth it!

    • Glad “the mark was hit” busymindthinking, I hoped it would 😀

    • I agree busymindthinking – long post are usually not the ones we rush in to read, we take our time reading it when we do venture there and what keeps us reading is the way the content flows and how closely it touches our own mind and understanding. This is a top post, I enjoyed reading it and am so much more aware now about the war in Croatia during 1990’s.

      • It’s true. When we follow multiple people and each writer offers varying lengths and numbers of posts – sometimes choices have to be made about what to read, especially when one is attempting to post as well as read others work. I’m thankful I read it. It is very well done! I’m learning too. I reside in Canada and appreciate what others offer in my education. This site is a blessing in many, many ways. Have a beautiful and inspired day.

      • 😀 XX

  15. Miso Sorbel says:

    The way this subject is addressed, written about here is truly excellent. Things fall into place in my mind after reading it. Not only is Croatia the victim but so is democracy. First it was the Serbian king that ruled, then came the communists – the political methods used by both to scourge and oppress – awful.

  16. Dear Ina, would you mind if I translate this into German and use it as an explanation for all the Germans, that don’t know why that war in 1991 came up and keep asking me about it all the time? Maybe I could even publish it, of course officially marked as a translation and your (author) and my name (translator) at the bottom. I´d very much appreciate a quick answer. You´d only have to trust my translation skills. Thanks a lot, Damir.

    • Thank you Damir, translation is great, let the word spread. Only as source of translation please use the name of this blog and the web address rather than my name as that reflects better I think.

  17. Hi Ina. I read this last night before bed, but decided to read again this morning while a bit more awake! Lol. This is so well written, and definitely clear for those who might not know the history. Having Croatian parents, I of course knew most of this, but it was great to read a more “scholarly” perceptive (as opposed to my high school dropout parents’ interpretations hahaha). Thanks for taking the time to write this piece and help more people understand just how tough it has been for Croatian people over the years.

    • Thank you annathrax for feedback, glad you liked it, I did have help in writing it as have been on a mission re Aloysius Stepinac this past week – post coming – long one but our Saint deserves much more

  18. Croatia and Ireland have so much in common regarding its complex history and Racial,Religious,and Cultural oppression and persecution..Our Peoples also fought together in foreign wars for other Nation`s. . Presently I see Croatia like Ireland ,progressing by various forms which is an ongoing process of recovery. This involves Human Public interests to Infrastructure ,Economics ,Politics ,Justice etc. Then there’s the psychological casualties or their continuing war ” the battlefield of the mind” effecting both Combatants and Civilians . Unfortunately as their injuries are not physical ,they are mainly forgotten.. A lot of Political decisions regarding Justice etc after wars can also effect many`s piece of mind.
    There is no Glory in war only horror and those who experienced hostilities from Civilian to Combatants know .Whichever side is wrong at the start ,,changes during wars, as both sides commit horror. We all have a way to go yet Inavukic . Za Slobudu..

  19. Reblogged this on .

  20. Ina, this is terrific. I have printed it so I can use it with the kindle books I have gotten. It seems that the Croats and Jews have become the world’s scapegoats. I really appreciate all of the information. You are wonderful. Hugs, Barbara

  21. Ina thanks for summarizing our history of struggles and pain in such a simple yet understanding way. I wish that only my generation of Croats could actually see the history likes this, and not the pro Yugoslav propaganda that the SDP has been trying to brain wash them, and up rise and purge them and their lackeys in other parties through lustration so we can actually have a free Croatia and not be in the dark that the communists and the sons of the partisans such as josipovic who put us there. In my opinion anyone who had communist connections through them being the sons of partisans or communist party members, whether whatever party HDZ or SDP has to go because they are hurting us more than helping us.

  22. Maybe I’m wrong, but since Tito famously rebuffed the USSR and Yugoslavia was never “behind the Iron Curtain”, I didn’t think Yugoslavia was ever very “important” to the Soviet Union. As for “Western powers during WWII” – I’m never sure if Germany is considered “western”. The western Allies probably didn’t want to touch Jasenovac with the proverbial 10-foot pole – just like Croatian youth of the present.

    • Thank you on comment CM – No Germany was not considered Western during the war – I think you are wrong re today’s youth and Jasenovac, the youth I have met knows it’s there, it respects the victims, it’s wants justice for all including the numbers who perished there during the war and after WWII when Jasenovac remained opened for about 3 years and in it then perished a great deal on innocent Croats as well – another communist crime to be dealt with still

  23. Africa for Africans, Asia for Asians, White countries for EVERYBODY? Imagine if I as a white man were allowed to immigrate to a majority Asian country, then once I was living there I proclaimed: “this is a land of immigrants, this is not an Asian country, it belongs to EVERYBODY? Wouldn’t that be profoundly immoral of me? And wouldn’t I be guilty of promoting Asian GENOCIDE? Diversity is a codeword for White GENOCIDE.

  24. Beautiful synopsis of a very complicated history.

  25. Thank you for your visits …a good history lesson

  26. Danke für Deinen Eintrag. Liebe Grüße, Wolfgang

  27. Ina morning !
    Thank you very much for your visit and comment ! 🙂

  28. this is a great review!

  29. Ok, morala sam ovo još pročitati.. Sad sam na pola pa hajde da rezimiramo…
    For now, I agree with ALMOST everything what I have heard, read and learned through my education. But this troubles me:
    “Yugoslav economy, which was run by unqualified Communists who were mostly given positions due to party membership, not technical knowledge of anything.”

    Do you really think that this was only problem in Yugoslavia? Do you think that HDZ being leader party was not doing the same. Do you really think that SDP being as leader party is not doing the same? Corruption is constant and everywhere and it is important to trow it in the trash… If we ever can.

    • If you follow my posts on corruption ivyon you will notice that I do not care to which political party a corrupt person belongs – all must be held accountable and carry the consequences of their criminal deeds. I do not agree with the way Croatia ha tackled corruption so far: that is, it’s imperative that not only top officials are processed but local council presidents and officials as well …

      • That is good, we agree on that! But it is kinda impossible to get to local because the person sitting in office is a brother from “who-knows-who” and a secretary is a doughter from “that guy” and the person that could actually help is never there… And so on, and so on… The question we are asked on an job interview is not, what is your motivation? What degree you have? It is: Čija si? Who is your father, who is your mother? When a person is passing exams handing blues envelopes, what can we expect from higher institutions? I’m sure you know about “Index affair”…

      • Lot of work still awaits democracy in Croatia. When it comes to rooting out corruption nothing is impossible – all that’s needed is will power and this or the former governments in Croatia do not seem to have what it takes and, hence, I hope a future government will for there are more people in Croatia that are not tarnished by corruption than those that are.

  30. Love to read what you write hugs Mariella https://mellasweden.wordpress.com/2016/08/19/champagne-inte-bara-en-bubbeldryck/

  31. What a great article. I have just visited Montenegro and Dubrovnik. It was sad to hear the tour leader say the towns were totally destroyed and what we saw in the villages….were the new buildings built after 1996….still cannot understand the hatred in the region….such beautifull countries with amazing peaople !! May the peace you have today remain forever !!!

    • Thank you Albert. Montenegro was allied with Serbia during the 1990’s war of aggression, sadly – it only split from it about 2002. It’s a brutal history that will always breed unease and hatred and anger but hopefully these will disappear as each nation reconciles its past. As to rebuilding, while some has been done much still remains with devastation of war visible. Cheers and thank you for your visit.

  32. Mike Shimeta says:

    Through ancestry research, I have found living relatives in Croatia. They have invited us to come, so my wife and I will spend 8 days visiting distant relatives in Zagreb, Daruvar, and Osijek. Please tell me, how Croatia is doing today. Is the economy stable? Do they export as much as they import? How do the Croats look toward Serbs and Bosnians today? How do the Croats view Americans today? Thank you for your article.

    • I reckon you’re going to have a great time in Croatia, especially connecting to family once “lost”. Croatia has a lot of unemployment but also ,many live well – similar stuff to what occurs in America or anywhere else for that matter, Mike. Economy is picking up slightly nut still on shaky grounds, successful tourism bails everyone out it seems, at least a bit. Croats look towards Serbs and Bosniaks the same way as towards anyone else although issues unsettled from the war are still on agenda’s but overall law-abiding nationals are equals. On the overall scale Croats see Americans as allies and friendship between the two countries is quite strong. Good times ahead for you in Croatia 🙂

  33. Brilliant study , the same atrocities are happening in my home town MUSOL /IRAQ these days..Regards.

  34. Shane Raller says:

    this is great and all but im doing a project on croatia and i need to know what countries they have fought against

  35. Bravo, Ina! Velik posao. (I hvala na lajkovima 🙂 )

  36. This whole conflict is complicated to me, and I don’t want to spend too much time studying it because it depresses me, a lot, and feels somehow, illogically personal.
    Here is what I know about my inherited history from this region. My grandfather has roots in, and his family now live in Sophia Bulgaria. I know his family (and mine by default) are still in Sophia. I found my Uncle Alexander through google, who was so nice to me when he visited in the us on a limited visa, and learned he was the chair of the department of mathematics at some university in Sophia.I found my contemporaneous cousins in Sophia through google.
    But my grandfather also identified as a Yugoslav. Claimed it too, as his country, which always completely confused me. I have no idea if any of this makes him an enemy, or just a person. He fled the area in the early 1900’s due to familial persecution he told me a lot about, and came to the us, where he experienced xenophobia, and had to change his name at Ellis Island. I found his arrival records. He died in 1973.
    My grandfather became a superior court judge in the us, did so well, and was probably the most intelligent person I have met, even though he had his weaknesses. Like we all do.
    I have no idea where I should stand on this conflict and terror.
    When I travel this region, I feel his blood coursing in my veins. I have an instinctive love of these places and people. The feel familiar.
    I wish my grandfather was still here to read what you are writing. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that whether he agreed with you or not, he would have very much admired you, as I do.

    • Wow, Cindy, our destinies or rather those of our fathers, grandfathers, mothers, grandmothers are quite similar … persecutions were rife and the region is not free of them yet, sadly. If he fled, he had a good reason, as my father did…Thank you for commenting and I’m sure your grandad and I would have a great deal to talk about…many issues close to home, so to speak. Hugs!

  37. Thank you for this article, I’m visiting Croatia in September and I trying to learn more about the history of the wars, and history of the area in general if you have any more recommendations for good books. I recently read a novel, girl at war, I thought was really good.

  38. George Lendich says:

    Thanks for the History. I will be visiting Croatia and Family members of my Grandfathers siblings. I just wish I knew the language.

    • Thanks George and have a good time, you’re sure to pick up some language but also you will find many speak English in Croatia. Cheers

  39. Thanks, excellent brief history, I Will read and re read to absorb the information.

  40. wim peeraer says:

    Good read, have several Croat colleagues at sea, some have been active during this sad period. Sheds some light on the balkan war.

  41. Someone who actually knows your history says:

    Where is the part of the story where Ustashe commit genocide against the Serbs, Jews, and Roma? It must just be a historian’s fantasy.

    You just have to love the objective nature of the people of the Balkans. Every group wants to play the victim.

  42. Someone who actually knows your history says:

    “and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”‘

    God frowns on hypocrites.

  43. I think all you write is very intresting to read I have a lot of friends from Croatien and Serbien and my sons best friends family come from Croatien. Have a nice time hugs Mella and Sweden <3

  44. Important lesson. Thanks for sharing.

  45. What a sobering read. To my shame I had no idea. I’ll be reading with new eyes from now on.

  46. it’s some legacy, and after the second world war, you think they learned something, then you read today of the growth of national socialism in terms of the right wing, it’s one of the big issues facing the planet, how to temper this thinking. Perhaps the signs from above will make them think again, be blessed, there is a God and the signs are showing daily, thanks

    • However, paddypicasso, right wing of modern times has rarely gone socialist, it would I believe go against their grain – one thing is patriotism in terms of protecting identity and interests of own people and another is socialist attitude and mechanisms…we count on God to to temper the thinking and actions indeed as people produce all sorts

  47. Link to website denied as it leads to preposterous a claim that the Croatian language is a version of a Serbo-Croatian language. The is no Serbo-Croatian language!

  48. Translation: […] Croatia is one of the wealthiest nations in Yugoslavia and decided to be independent, so it declared independence in 1991, just like Slovenia and Macedonia. However, many incidents, such as the collision of both supporters and police officers in the football game of Timona Zagreb vs. Red Star Belgrade in Zagreb, repulsed by the Serbian-centered Yugoslav camp that did not want to let go of Croatia. Occurred. After all, Croatia became independent from Yugoslavia, but this time there was a conflict between Croatians and Serbs in Croatia. Eventually, the conflict lasted until 1995, when Serbs were forced to withdraw from Croatia, and the Serbian territories within Croatia also came under Croatia’s transition through the UN Transitional Rule. A similar dispute broke out in Bosnia and Herzegovina at about the same time. Bosnia and Herzegovina are populated by Bosniak, Croatian, and Serbian peoples, and especially Bosniak people were aiming for independence. Serbia repulsed it and the conflict began after the 1992 Declaration of Independence. The conflict will result in approximately 100,000 deaths and 2 million displaced people. Eventually, after UN peacekeeping operations and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) intervention, in 1995 Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Yugoslavia signed a peace treaty with the help of the United States. It was And only Serbia and Montenegro remained as Yugoslavia, but unsolved problems remained inside Serbia. That was the existence of Kosovo. […]


  1. […] and actions by Serbia (and Milosevic’s Quislings in Croatia and B&H) resulting in the Homeland War in Croatia (the background and dynamics of which are covered in detail in this link). The prelude to the war and Western and international diplomatic, deep state, and media gatekeeper […]

  2. […] I urge you to read more about the War for Independence and year leading up to it in this incredible article by Ina […]

  3. […] On Monday morning, we bade our final (for now!) farewells to Camp Marina, and headed north for The Plitvice Lakes National Park. Again, we took the inland route and witnessed further the consequences of The Homeland War – quite saddening, to be honest and it really has piqued an interest in what exactly happened to all these people whose houses now lie derelict. I read an interesting article on the timeline of The War – just to satisfy my curiosity on the matter – if you’re interested, you can find it here. […]

  4. […] monasteries, palaces and fountains survived relatively intact, they again were under threat in the armed conflict of the 1990’s. Such is the beauty of the city that it has been awarded UNESCO status to help in the restoration […]

  5. […] A Brief History of The War in Croatia – Background, Battlefields and Outcomes […]

  6. […] Source: A Brief History of The War in Croatia – Background, Battlefields and Outcomes – Croatia, the War… […]

  7. […] by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Like Zadar, after World War I it became part of Italy. The Croatian War of Independence was fought between Croat forces who had declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. Today, […]

  8. […] city was almost completely destroyed in an earthquake in 1667 and then again during the war of Croatian independence in the 1990s. With grenades, bombs and uncontrollable fires, these disasters left the buildings’ […]

  9. […] newspapers and conversations with locals. What little I know about the history of conflict between Dubrovnik and its Serbian neighbors is interesting as is the Bosnian War from 20 years […]

  10. Hrvatski Handbook: Your Complete Guide to Learning Croatian says:

    […] even a brief glimpse into the ongoing geopolitical conflicts between Croatia and Serbia, and you’ll get a taste of the fiercely nationalistic viewpoints that insist on labeling […]

  11. […] クロアチアはユーゴスラビアの中でも経済的に裕福な国家で、独立したほうが良いという判断があったことから、スロベニア・マケドニアと同じく1991年に独立を宣言する。しかし、クロアチアを手放したくなかったセルビアを中心としたユーゴスラビア陣営が反発し、ザグレブで行われたティモナ・ザグレブ対レッドスター・ベオグラードのサッカーの試合での両サポーターと警官の衝突など、多くの事件が発生した。結局クロアチアはユーゴスラビアから独立を果たしたものの、今度はクロアチア内でのクロアチア系住民とセルビア系住民などとの紛争が発生した。最終的にこの紛争は1995年まで続き、セルビア系住民はクロアチアからの撤退を強いられ、クロアチア内のセルビア系住民による自治地域も、国連暫定統治を経てクロアチアの統治下に入った。また、ほぼ同時期にボスニア・ヘルツェゴビナでも同様の紛争が勃発した。ボスニア・ヘルツェゴビナにはボシュニャク系住民、クロアチア系住民、セルビア系住民が住んでおり、特にボシュニャク系住民は独立を目指していた。それにセルビアが反発し、1992年の独立宣言以降衝突が始まった。この紛争では約10万人の死者と200万人の避難民が生まれる。最終的に国連平和維持活動およびNATO(北大西洋条約機構)の介入を経て、1995年、アメリカの仲介でセルビアとボスニア・ヘルツェゴビナ、クロアチア、ユーゴスラビアは平和条約を締結し、問題は一応の解決を見た。そしてユーゴスラビアとして残ったのはセルビアとモンテネグロだけとなったが、セルビアの内部では未解決の問題が残っていた。それがコソボの存在だった。 […]

  12. […] クロアチアはユーゴスラビアの中でも経済的に裕福な国家で、独立したほうが良いという判断があったことから、スロベニア・マケドニアと同じく1991年に独立を宣言する。しかし、クロアチアを手放したくなかったセルビアを中心としたユーゴスラビア陣営が反発し、ザグレブで行われたティモナ・ザグレブ対レッドスター・ベオグラードのサッカーの試合での両サポーターと警官の衝突など、多くの事件が発生した。結局クロアチアはユーゴスラビアから独立を果たしたものの、今度はクロアチア内でのクロアチア系住民とセルビア系住民などとの紛争が発生した。最終的にこの紛争は1995年まで続き、セルビア系住民はクロアチアからの撤退を強いられ、クロアチア内のセルビア系住民による自治地域も、国連暫定統治を経てクロアチアの統治下に入った。また、ほぼ同時期にボスニア・ヘルツェゴビナでも同様の紛争が勃発した。ボスニア・ヘルツェゴビナにはボシュニャク系住民、クロアチア系住民、セルビア系住民が住んでおり、特にボシュニャク系住民は独立を目指していた。それにセルビアが反発し、1992年の独立宣言以降衝突が始まった。この紛争では約10万人の死者と200万人の避難民が生まれる。最終的に国連平和維持活動およびNATO(北大西洋条約機構)の介入を経て、1995年、アメリカの仲介でセルビアとボスニア・ヘルツェゴビナ、クロアチア、ユーゴスラビアは平和条約を締結し、問題は一応の解決を見た。そしてユーゴスラビアとして残ったのはセルビアとモンテネグロだけとなったが、セルビアの内部では未解決の問題が残っていた。それがコソボの存在だった。 […]

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