Dragan Bakić

Institute for Balkan Studies

Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts

Belgrade

The Great War and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia The Legacy of an Enduring Conflict

Abstract: The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, officially named Yugoslavia after 1929, came into being on the ruins of the Habsburg Empire in 1918 after the immense war efforts and sacrifices endured by Serbia. The experience of anti-Habsburg struggle both before and after 1914 and the memory of some of the most difficult moments in the Great War left a deep imprint on the minds of policy-makers in Belgrade. As they believed that many dangers faced in the war were likely to be revived in the future, the impact of these experiences was instrumental to their post-war foreign policy and military planning. This paper looks at the specific ways in which the legacy of the Great War affected and shaped the (planned) responses of the Yugoslav government to certain crises and challenges posed to Yugoslavia and the newly-established order in the region. These concern the reaction to the two attempts of Habsburg restoration in Hungary in 1921, the importance of the Greek port of Salonica (Thessaloniki) for Yugoslavia’s strategic and defence requirements, and military planning within the framework of the Little Entente (the defensive alliance between Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and Romania) in the early 1930s. In addition, it is argued here that the legacy of Serbo-Croat differences during the war relating to the manner of their unification was apparent in the political struggle between Serbs and Croats during the two decades of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia’s existence.

Keywords: Great War, Yugoslavia, legacy, Habsburg restoration, Salonica (Thessaloniki), military planning, Serbo-Croat conflict

https://doi.org/10.2298/BALC1849157B

http://www.balcanica.rs