End of War or End of State? 1918 in the Public Memories of Post-Communist Croatia and Serbia

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This article investigates the role of 1918, the end of the First World War, and the establishment of the Yugoslav state in public memories of post-communist Croatia and Serbia. Analysing history schoolbooks within the context of major works of history and public discussion, the authors trace the developments of public memory of the end of the war and 1918. Drawing on the concepts of public memory and historical narrative, the authors focus on the ways in which history textbooks create historical narratives and on the types of lessons from the past that can be extracted from these narratives. While Serbia and Croatia have rather different patterns of First World War memory, the authors argue that both states have abandoned the Yugoslav communist narrative and now publicly commemorate 1918 as a loss of national statehood. This is somehow paradoxical, since the establishment of the South Slav State in 1918 was supposedly an outcome of the Wilsonian principle of national self-determination. In Serbia, the story of loss is packed in a fatalistic narrative of heroism and victimhood, while in Croatia the story of loss is embedded in a tale of necessary evils, which nevertheless had a positive outcome in a sovereign Croatian state.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNationalities Papers
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)646-661
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2021

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Humanities - South Eastern Europe, Public memory, Historical narratives, First World War, 1918, Yugoslavia

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