History of Yugoslavia

History of Yugoslavia in Europe


This is the first part of the history of Yugoslavia, which has had hugue implications in international law, specially European law.

The Country
Also called “Jugoslavia”. The official name was the “Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes” (Kraljevina Srba Hnata i Slovcnaca). The country came into being in the closing months of 1918 as a result of the collapse of Austria-Hungary and the voluntary union of its Yugoslav territories with the former Kingdoms of Serbia and Montenegro. In point of international law, its existence may be said to date from Dec. 1 1918, when the Prince-Regent Alexander of Serbia formally complied with the invitation of the Yugoslav National Council to assume the regency over the sister provinces also. That the Great Powers were so long in according official recognition to the new state was due to purely political reasons connected with the Adriatic dispute.

Yugoslavia consisted of the former independent Kingdoms of Serbia and Montenegro; the triune Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia-Dalmatia (of which the first two enjoyed special autonomy under the Kingdom of Hungary, and sent 40 delegates from their own Parliament in Zagreb to that of Budapest, while the third was one of the 17 provinces of the Austrian Empire, with a local diet at Zara); parts of the Banat, Bačka and Baranja (which were integral portions of Hungary proper); Slovenia (consisting of portions of Carniola, Carinthia, Styria and Istria, each holding a position in Austria analogous to Dalmatia); and Bosnia-Herzegovina (which was from 1878 to 1918 under the joint administration of Austria and Hungary and had its own diet since 1910). Fiume, which from 1867 to 1918 had been an autonomous unit under Hungary, has by the Treaty of Rapallo been constituted as an independent State. Italy has acquired almost all the Slovene and Croat districts of Gorizia and Istria.

Early Tendencies Toward Unity

The Yugoslav movement was by no means a recent one, as is often assumed. Despite the different traditions of culture due to the rival ecclesiastical influence of Rome and Byzantium, a sense of kinship had survived throughout centuries of separation, and was strengthened by continual migration. The two most notable cases were the formation of the Uskok pirate settlements along the Dalmatian coast in the 16th century, and the settlement of the Serbian patriarch and many thousand Serb refugee families in Slavonia and S. Hungary, at the invitation of the Emperor Leopold I. in 1690. Ivan Gundulić and the brilliant group of poets that gathered round him at Ragusa in the early 17th century, reflected in their writings the little Slav Republic’s intimate connexion with its kinsmen of Serbia and Bosnia. The first advocate of the Pan-Slav idea in Russia itself was Križanić, a Croat Catholic priest from Dalmatia, and early writers in favour of Slavonic racial and literary unity were the Slovene schoolmaster Bohoricz (1584) and the Dalmatian Croat Orbini, who wrote in Italian (Il regno degli Slavi 1601). The Franciscan friar Kačić, who did so much for the revival of popular poetry in Bosnia and Dalmatia in the mid-18th century, shows similar traces of Serbophil feeling, and the achievements of Dusan and other Serbian Tsars have bulked almost as largely in the modern literature of the Croats as of the Serbs themselves.

The first active impulse toward political unity was given by Napoleon, when after Wagram he erected the Slovene districts and most of Croatia and Dalmatia into a separate Illyrian State, incorporated in the French Empire, but having its administrative capital at Laibach. This short-lived experiment, which inspired the muse of Vodnik, the first Slovene poet of real mark, had its aftermath in the Illyrian movement of the forties, which centred in Zagreb, the Croatian capital. Its real motive force was supplied by Ljudevit Gaj, who combined to a remarkable degree the qualities of author, philologist and political agitator. His two newspapers, the Illyrian National Gazette and the Danica Ilirska (Illyrian Daystar) provided a literary focus for the rising generation; while his reform of Croat orthography, planned on parallel lines with Vuk Karadžić’s epoch-making philological work in Serbia, assured to modern Serbo-Croat literature a definitely unitary development. The fact that linguistically Serb and Croat had thus become interchangeable terms, only to be distinguished by the respective use of the Cyrillic and Latin alphabets, inevitably reacted upon the political situation, and served as an incentive to the movement for unity. In somewhat sensational and affected but prophetic words Gaj compared Illyria to a lyre, “a triangle between Skutari, Varna and Villach. Its strained and inharmonious chords are Carinthia, Gorizia, Istria, Croatia, Slavonia, Dalmatia, Ragusa, Bosnia, Montenegro, Herzegovina, Serbia, Bulgaria and Lower Hungary,” and “on the great lyre of Europe they must harmonize once more.” He saw in the Magyars the chief obstacle to the realization of his dream, and openly warned them that they were “an island in the Slav ocean,” which one day might easily engulf them. The alienation of Croat and Magyar — for centuries close allies in the struggle against the Turk — grew rapidly in the ‘forties, mainly owing to the aggressive legislation passed by successive Hungarian diets, and tending to curtail Croatia’s ancient liberties and extend the sway of the Magyar language. It was a fertile soil for Gaj’s agitation, and in 1848 the Croatian nation found in Baron Jelačić a military leader who voiced the Illyrian idea and hoped to realize it in union with the Habsburg Dynasty and the other subject nationalities of Hungary. It is highly significant that Jelačić as Ban of Croatia went hand in hand with the newly elected Serb-patriarch Rajačić: that Croats and Serbs, including many volunteers from the principality of Serbia, fought side by side against Hungary, and that the poet-prince-bishop Peter II. of Montenegro wrote to Jelačić, expressing his solidarity with the movement.

Croatia after 1848

After the collapse of the Hungarian revolution in 1849, the Croats, in the words of Pulszky, received as reward the same absolutist régime which had been imposed upon the Magyars as punishment. Jelačić and Gaj died as disappointed men, and the very general resentment aroused by the ingratitude of Francis Joseph vented itself also against the name of Illyria, which rapidly disappeared from the political arena. But its place was taken more and more by Yugoslavia, which, it should be remarked, was then still used to denote all the territories inhabited by any southern Slav tribe, and so to include the Bulgars no less than the Serbo-Croats and Slovenes. On the intellectual side the new movement found its champion and its Maecenas in Bishop Strassmayer, who for over 50 years devoted the surplus revenues of the wealthy see of Dya Kovo (Djakovo) to national purposes, and was mainly instrumental in founding at Zagreb the southern Slav Academy (1867), the first Croat university (1874) and a modern gallery and school of arts. Historical research and literary criticism flourished under Rački, the first president of the Academy, and his pupils: while Strassmayer did much to revive the Glagolitic, or ancient Slavonic liturgy, and to win for it the favour of Pope Leo XIII. Close relations linked the great Bishop with Prince Michael, Serbia’s ablest modern ruler, and with Prince Danilo of Montenegro who assured Michael, “Form the Kingdom of Serbia, and I will mount guard before your palace.”

The Dual System

In the late ‘sixties the Yugoslav idea met with a serious set-back. Prussia’s victory forced Austria to come to terms with the Magyars: and the bargain was sealed by the Ausgleich, or Dual System, at the expense of the lesser nationalities. Within certain limits Croatia’s autonomy was respected, but so far from Zagreb being consulted, the terms of the new settlement were in effect dictated from Budapest and only submitted pro forma to a carefully “packed” Croatian Diet, after the bargain between Budapest and Vienna had already made of them an accomplished fact. Meanwhile the murder of Prince Michael in the same year deprived Serbia of a great statesman and the movement for unity of a possible head. During the ‘seventies Austro-Hungarian policy was increasingly successful in checking intercourse between the Yugoslavs of the monarchy and those outside its bounds. Meanwhile the newly constituted “Party of Right,” resting upon a narrow Catholic clerical basis, aimed at the reunion of Dalmatia with Croatia-Slavonia in the so-called Triune Kingdom, within whose bounds it affected to deny the very existence of Serbs. This Pan-Croat ideal was favoured in Vienna as a convenient rival to Pan-Serbism with its centre in Belgrade; but its natural effect was to drive the Serbs of Slavonia and S. Hungary into the arms of Budapest. The insurrection of Bosnia against the Turks only served to increase party discords: for though it aroused the keenest sympathy of all Serbs and Croats, and thus furthered the sense of racial affinity, it gave rise to rival claims upon Bosnia which could be exploited in the interest of Vienna and Budapest. The official policy of Baron Kállay, for 20 years the administrator of Bosnia, was to taboo the name of Serb in the hope of creating a distinct “Bosnian” nationality.

The period between 1883 and 1903 was the most humiliating in the modern history of the southern Slavs. Count Khuen-Hedérváry, as Ban of Croatia, reduced political corruption to a fine art and governed by playing off Croat and Serb against each other, and fanning the dying flames of religious bigotry: while at the same time Serbia under King Milan was reduced to the position of a mere satellite of Vienna. The humiliating secret treaty concluded between Austria-Hungary and Serbia in 1881 had specially pledged the latter to repress any nationalist agitation against the Dual Monarchy, even in respect of that Bosnia for which Serbia had risked her existence four years earlier. Disunion had reduced the Yugoslavs to an almost negligible quantity in Balkan politics.

The National Revival in Croatia

After the turn of the century, however, a new generation arose both among Croats and Serbs, which had received its education abroad, and especially in Prague, where the ethical and political teachings of Prof. Masaryk exercised a remarkable influence over the progressive youth of all Slav countries. All thinking men were increasingly conscious that no progress was possible until Croat and Serb presented an united front against German-Magyar predominance. The first signs of reviving solidarity came in 1903, when Khuen’s rigorous suppression of rioting in Zagreb and several country districts of Croatia, led to demonstrations of protest throughout Dalmatia and Istria. Thirty Croat deputies of those provinces resolved to lay their kinsmen’s grievances before the Emperor, and his refusal of an audience played a material part in alienating Croat sympathies from the Crown. It is not uninstructive to note that as the same year 1868 witnessed a setback in both Croatia and Serbia, so the same year 1903 marks a parallel revival in national consciousness in both countries, coincident with the fall of Khuen-Hedérváry and the removal of the Obrenović dynasty. Abroad the new King’s position was prejudiced by the hideous crime which led to his accession, but among his own people this was from the first atoned for by the introduction of a real constitutional régime and increased political stability. The Serbian court, instead of being a centre of perpetual scandal and misrule, resumed its true position as a focus of national aspirations, and this change was not lost upon the Yugoslavs of “the other side.”

Resolution of Fiume

The advocates of political coöperation between Serb and Croat saw their opportunity in the constitutional conflict which broke out between Crown and Parliament in Hungary: and on Oct. 4 1905 40 Croat deputies from Croatia, Dalmatia and Istria formulated in the so-called “Resolution of Fiume” a complete programme of political reform, and defined the basis upon which solid friendship between Croats and Magyars seemed attainable. The prime movers in this action were Dr. Trumbić, a leading Dalmatian advocate and mayor of Spalato, and Mr. Supilo, also a Dalmatian, the editor of the Novi List at Fiume. Ten days later 26 Serb deputies from the various provinces of the monarchy, met at Zara, indorsed the principles embodied in the Resolution of Fiume and declared in favour of joint political action between Croats and Serbs. It is worthy of note that the Resolution of Fiume anticipated the modern doctrine of self-determination by the very explicit assertion that “every nation has the right to decide freely and independently concerning its existence and its fate.” On Nov. 14 the Croat and Serb parties in the Diet of Dalmatia publicly affirmed the principle that “the Croats and Serbs are one nation”: and this standpoint has never since been abandoned. The Serbo-Croat coalition, formed on the basis of the Fiume Resolution, at once acquired the mastery in Croatia, and even when its short-lived alliance with the Hungarian coalition — in power in Hungary since April 1906 — was replaced by acute conflict in the summer of 1907, no amount of repression from Budapest could destroy its solid majority in the Croatian diet. Baron Paul Rauch, the Magyar nominee as Ban, failed, with all his official apparatus, to secure a single seat for his creatures at the genera] election of 1908, and therefore proceeded to govern without Parliament, by an elaborate system of administrative pressure, press persecution and espionage. Under his régime Magyar intolerance of Croat national aspirations joined hands with the designs of the Ballplatz against Serbia in connexion with the impending annexation of Bosnia.

Friedjung Trial

The treason trial which opened at Zagreb in March 1909 pursued the parallel aims of intimidating the Serbs of Croatia, of splitting the new-found unity of Serb and Croat and of proving to the outside world the existence of a dangerous Pan-Serb movement organized from Belgrade inside the monarchy and amply justifying the countermove of annexation. None of these aims were attained; for the trial, which turned on the evidence of the police spy Nastić (already chief witness in the doubtful Cettinje bomb trial of 1908) degenerated into a public scandal, owing to the conduct of the judges and public prosecutor, and rallied Croat public opinion in defence of the 53 Serb victims. Serbo-Croat solidarity became still more apparent when the Austrian historian Dr. Friedjung, in the Neue Freie Presse of March 25 1909, openly charged the leaders of the Serbo-Croat coalition with being in the pay of Serbia. This article, which was based upon a mass of incriminating documents supplied to Friedjung by the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Office, had been timed to coincide with the outbreak of hostilities against Serbia, and was to have been the first of a series convicting the Serbian Government and dynasty of aggressive and even murderous designs. When at the last moment war was averted by the surrender of Serbia and Russia, an attempt was made to withdraw the article, but the first copies had already been issued: and Count Aehrenthal now had the double embarrassment of the Zagreb trial, which no longer served any purpose of foreign policy, but suited the aggressive game of Budapest against Zagreb, and of a libel action brought against Friedjung by those leaders of the Serbo-Croat coalition whose honour he had impugned. Despite the Ballplatz’s efforts at postponement, the trial took place in Vienna in Dec. 1909, and revealed the documents upon which Friedjung had relied, as impudent forgeries concocted by subordinate officials of the Austro-Hungarian legation in Belgrade, with the connivance of the minister, Count Forgács. The responsibility was finally brought home to Forgács by Prof. Masaryk in a famous speech before the Austrian delegation: and Aehrenthal preserved an embarrassed silence when his minister was bluntly compared with Azev, the Russian agent provocateur.

The Cuvaj Dictatorship

The triumphant vindication of Mr. Supilo and his colleagues of the Serbo-Croat coalition gave a fresh incentive to the idea of unity throughout the southern Slav provinces of Austria-Hungary. Rauch’s position had become untenable, and he was succeeded by the more moderate Dr. Tomǎsić, who brought with him from Budapest the concession of a somewhat extended franchise (260,000 instead of 50,000 electors). His attempt to emancipate himself from the control of the coalition at the general elections of Oct. 1910 failed miserably, and after a year of temporizing, he suddenly threw off all pretence at legal forms, dissolved the Diet almost before it had met, and in Dec. 1911 ordered new elections. But in spite of wholesale terrorism he only succeeded in wrenching five more seats from the coalition, and on Jan. 19 1912 was replaced as Ban by a little known official Mr. Cuvaj, who promptly dissolved the Diet before it had even met, and proceeded to muzzle the press, to close the university and to arrest several prominent politicians. On April 3 the Croatian constitution was completely suspended by royal decree, and Cuvaj invested with far-reaching dictatorial powers. An attempt on his life by the student Jukić (June 8) was followed by still more reactionary measures, and on July 1 1 the autonomy of the Serbian orthodox church in Slavonia and Hungary was also suspended.

The Cuvaj régime had a magical effect in furthering the movement for Yugoslav unity. Specially significant were the Memorandum addressed to the throne by 55 deputies of the Croat party of Right, in the Croatian, Bosnian, Dalmatian and Istrian Diets, and the political strike organized by the pupils of both sexes in almost all the middle schools of the Slavonic South. This gave rise to sympathetic demonstrations in many Dalmatian and Bosnian towns, and to a series of interpellations and speeches by the Yugoslav and Czech deputies in the Parliament of Vienna. The Slovenes — clericals no less than progressives — became increasingly active in the Yugoslav movement, and their press began to demand the abandonment of the distinctive Slovene dialect as a hindrance to unity.

Balkan War

It was peculiarly unfortunate for Austria-Hungary that the Cuvaj régime should have been at its very height when the Balkan League achieved its dramatic victory over the Turks. The battle of Kumanovo in particular was greeted with indescribable enthusiasm throughout the Yugoslav provinces. The Serbian and Bulgarian anthems were sung on the streets, collections were made in every village for the Balkan Red Cross funds, and when Austria-Hungary mobilized, protests were heard on every side against the bare possibility of war with Serbia, which to the Yugoslavs would be a veritable civil war. The Austrian Government committed the grave blunder of answering these demonstrations by press confiscations and by the dissolution of the town councils of Spalato and Sebenico. This, however, was promptly countered by a monster meeting of protest at Zara on Nov. 24, attended by all but three of the Serbo-Croat deputies of Dalmatia, and delegates of almost every municipality in the province. Doctor Drinković, leader of the Dalmatian clericals, openly declared that “in the Balkan sun we see the dawn of our day!” and the Catholic Bishop of Cattaro greeted the news from Monastir by reciting the Nunc Dimittis. On all sides Serbia was now regarded as the southern Slav Piedmont: and the Dual Monarchy’s consistently hostile policy toward Belgrade, and its only too successful efforts to set Serbia and Bulgaria by the ears, intensified the excitement and resentment among its Yugoslav subjects. The Trialist solution (which would have united the Yugoslav provinces of Austria-Hungary in a third state enjoying equality with the two existing partners) rapidly lost popularity, even among the clerical parties, which had been attracted by the prospect of Catholic predominance in such a State.

On Dec. 27 1912 Cuvaj was replaced by a colourless official, Dr. Unkelhäusser, who marked time until a fresh candidate for the post of commissary or dictator was forthcoming in the person of Baron Skerlecz (July 23 1913). This appointment, at a moment when Austria-Hungary was again contemplating war with Serbia, naturally increased the ferment, and on Aug. 18, a determined attempt was made upon the life of Skerlecz by a young American Croat. At length on Nov. 30 Skerlecz was made Ban, the illegal decrees of Cuvaj revoked, and general elections ordered — the fifth since 1906. The coalition maintained its majority, the Government only obtaining ten seats: but though this time the Diet was allowed to meet, no attempt was made to satisfy Yugoslav aspirations or to solve the real issues at stake between Hungary and Croatia. More and more the situation in the south of the monarchy was allowed to drift. The political leaders were far more conscious than either Vienna or Budapest of the volcanic state of public opinion: but when in genuine alarm and from a sense of impotence they attempted to restrain their followers, the only result was a loss of influence over the younger generation, which had become increasingly infected by revolutionary ideas. Among the Yugoslavs the students had always dabbled unduly in politics, and this tendency was accentuated by the widespread unrest and excitement which followed upon the Balkan upheaval. On the eve of war the university and middle-school students had five or six newspaper organs of their own — notably Jugoslavija in Prague, Val in Zagreb and Jedinstvo in Spalato — which advocated more radical action alike in politics and literature. Nor is it surprising that the hotheads among them, fired by the example of Jukić and other would-be assassins of Varešanin, Cuvaj and Skerlecz, should have indulged in terrorist projects. From this group came the young Bosnian Serb students Princip, Čabrinovič, Grabež and others, who murdered the Archduke Francis Ferdinand and the Duchess of Hohenberg at Sarajevo on June 28 1914, and thus lit a spark in the European powder magazine.

The World War

Immediately on the outbreak of the World War measures of extreme severity were taken by the civil and military authorities of Austria-Hungary throughout their Yugoslav provinces. The exact number of persons arrested or interned will probably never be known, but that the Yugoslavs were regarded, and treated, as a hostile population, is abundantly proved by the three following facts, which could be multiplied indefinitely. Doctor Tresić-Pavićić, the Dalmatian-Croat deputy, was informed by one of the judges who examined him that over 5,000 had been imprisoned in Dalmatia, Istria and Carniola. In the single internment camp of Arad there were 3,400 deaths among the victims from Bosnia alone; and Father Nikolić, a Catholic priest from Istria, testified to having himself buried over 2,000 Istrian victims, and Doctor Martinović to a knowledge of 8,000 fatal cases in the Styrian camps. In Dalmatia the leading deputies (e.g. Smodlaka, Čingrija, Tresić, Drinković) and many priests, advocates, doctors and other intellectuals were arrested, some being used as hostages and forced to accompany railway patrols, under the threat of instant death in case of sabotage by the population. All the municipal councils in Dalmatia (with the solitary exception of Zara, which had an Italian majority) were dissolved at an early stage in the war. Among the Slovenes of Istria and Carniola there were also numerous arrests, and the Matica Slovenska, the chief Slovene literary society, was dissolved and its funds confiscated. Press censorship was of course very rigid throughout the Dual Monarchy, but many Yugoslav newspapers were suppressed altogether. It was perhaps natural that repression should be specially severe in Bosnia. There were wholesale internments, conducted with the utmost brutality: and the horrors of the camps of Doboj, Mostar, Arad, Thalerhof, Möllersdorf, Gmünd, were early in 1918 revealed by Doctor Tresićin the Austrian Reichsrat. After the Archduke’s murder the headquarters of various Serbian institutions in Sarajevo had been sacked by mobs, with the open connivance of the police: after the outbreak of war practically all Serb societies and schools were closed in Bosnia. At a later stage the Orthodox calendar and the Cyrilline alphabet were prohibited, and this was actually enforced in Serbia itself during the Austrian occupation, and in the Serbian districts of Hungary from July 1916 onward. Bosnia was also the scene of a succession of monster political trials. In March 1915, 28 schoolboys of Banjaluka were sentenced to terms varying from two years to four months for founding a local Yugoslav society. In July 65 schoolboys from Sarajevo and Travnik received similar sentences, and again in Oct. 38 more boys from Tuzla were condemned to a total of 156 years. In Nov. 1915 at Banjaluka 151 prominent Bosnian Serbs — including 5 deputies and 20 orthodox priests — were put on trial for treason: and eventually 16 death sentences were passed, and terms of imprisonment totalling 858 years and a collective fine of 14 million crowns, were passed. Worse even than this was the system of wholesale expatriation adopted as a punishment for those who had shown a friendly attitude to the invading Serbian army. During the spring of 1915 the official organ at Sarajevo published list after list of Bosnian-Serb families who were thus declared to have forfeited their citizenship: and many thousands of women and children were driven across the Montenegrin frontier, often with only the clothes in which they stood. The motive was avowedly the same which in the Middle Ages led a mediæval garrison to drive the civil population of a town into the camp of its would-be deliverers. With every year of war the number of confiscations of property increased in the Yugoslav provinces, as in Bohemia and Transylvania — vengeance upon the families at home being widely used in order to deter Slav, Italian or Rumanian prisoners from enlisting in the various volunteer corps in process of formation on the Russian, Balkan and Italian fronts. In Croatia alone was there even a semblance of constitutional government. The diet of Zagreb was allowed to meet, and the Serbo-Croat coalition pursued a policy of pure opportunism, avoiding any pronouncement on matters of high policy, but buying a certain relaxation of régime in Croatia by supporting the Budapest Government and its nominee Skerlecz. But even this subservient and cautious House sometimes asserted itself: and on one occasion its vice-president Doctor Magdić proclaimed “the nation’s constant desire for unification in a single and independent political body.”

Yugoslav Propaganda Abroad

Meanwhile a certain number of Yugoslav leaders had managed to reach foreign soil before the outbreak of war, and during the winter of 1914 constituted themselves as the Yugoslav Committee. Its two foremost leaders were Doctor Trumbić and Mr. Supilo (two of the makers of the Resolution of Fiume) and it also included Doctor Hinković (known as the chief advocate in the Zagreb treason trial), Ivan Meštrović the sculptor, the Slovene deputies Gregorin and Trinajstić, the Bosnian Serb deputies Stojanović, Srškić and Vasiljević, publicists of repute such as Marjanović and Banjanin, and prominent representatives of the Yugoslav colonies in North and South America, such as the scientist Pupin and the shipping magnate Baburica. Their original centre was Rome, but in view of the hostile attitude of the Salandra-Sonnino Government they transferred their activities to Paris and London early in 1915. They were in close and cordial contact with the Serbian Government, but rightly insisted on retaining entire independence of action, their funds being derived from their wealthy S. American supporters, who had long been enthusiasts for the Yugoslav idea. Their first public pronouncement was an appeal to the British Parliament and nation (May 1915) for sympathy with the cause of Yugoslav unity and the dissolution of Austria-Hungary. This formed a natural complement to the unanimous declaration of the Serbian Skupština in Dec. 1914 for a union of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes in one State.

Secret Treaty of London

The entry of Italy into the war was a serious set-back to the Yugoslav cause, for under the Treaty of London (April 27 1915) she was to obtain, in the event of an Entente victory, wide districts in Gorizia, Carniola, Istria and Dalmatia, peopled by not less than 700,000 Yugoslavs. The frontier was to follow the watershed of the Julian Alps from Tarvis as far east as the Snježnik (Schneeberg) and to reach the sea just east of Volosca, Fiume being expressly reserved to Croatia. To Italy was assigned the northern half of the Dalmatian mainland as far as Cape Planka, and all the islands save Krk (Veglia) and Rab (Arbe) in the N., Solta and Brazza in front of Spalato, and the few which lie to the south of Meleda. The jealously guarded secret was discovered by Mr. Supilo in Petrograd within a few days of the signature of the treaty, and the main facts becoming known in Austria-Hungary, were skilfully exploited by her to rally the Croats and Slovenes in defence of their national territory. It was easy to represent the Entente as having betrayed the interests of Serbia and her kinsmen: and as for a time the Pašić Cabinet, in deference to the narrowly Orthodox influences then all powerful at Petrograd, was prepared to limit its claims to the mainly Serb and Orthodox provinces of Bosnia and Slavonia, and to leave the Catholic Croats and Slovenes to their fate, there was during the summer a certain revulsion of feeling in favour of Austria-Hungary, who appointed a Serb Orthodox frontiersman (Graničar), General Boroević, to the chief command on the Isonzo front. The conquest of Serbia, however, once more closed the ranks of the Yugoslavs, who saw in unity their sole hope for the future: and the desertions to the Entente which were so marked a feature of the first winter, became so rife as to render necessary a drastic revision of the Austro-Hungarian regimental system. Henceforth the various corps lost more and more their territorial character, one nationality was set to watch and control the other, and espionage and delation prevailed.

The Yugoslavs inside Austria-Hungary

The accession of the Emperor Charles, and the ferment aroused by the Russian Revolution, led to considerable political changes in both halves of the Dual Monarchy, the most notable being the dismissal of Count Tisza from the Hungarian premiership (May 23 1917), the grant of a general political amnesty, and the summons of the Austrian Reichsrat, which had not been allowed to meet since March 1914. No sooner was political life thus resumed than all the Slovene, Croat and Serb deputies of Austria united to form a “Yugoslav parliamentary Club,” which entered into close alliance with the Czech Club. At the opening sitting (May 30) Czechs, Poles and Ruthenes defined their national attitude in formal resolutions, and the Slovene leader, Father Korošec, in the name of the Yugoslavs, demanded “the union of all the Yugoslav territories of the Monarchy in an independent state organism, free from the rule of any foreign nation, and resting on a democratic basis, under the sceptre of the Habsburg-Lorraine Dynasty.” The last phrase was treated in some quarters as a proof of confirmed Austrophilism: in reality it was a minimum concession to the existing order, without which its framers could not have continued their activity. By this time it was sufficiently obvious that the Yugoslavs were tacitly if not explicitly agreed upon a triple parallel policy, framed for all contingencies. In Croatia the coalition was more opportunist than ever, and sent its delegates to the coronation of Charles as King of Hungary: by its compliance it obtained the appointment of its own nominee, Mr. Mihalović, as Ban, and was thus able to husband Croatian resources and on occasion to practise passive resistance. It accepted the status quo as a working basis, but no amount of pressure could wring from it a disavowal of Trumbić and his colleagues. Meanwhile the opposition parties openly allied themselves with the Yugoslav Club in Austria, which agitated for complete national unity, but saved itself from prosecution by occasional references to the dynasty and absolute silence regarding Serbia. It was left to the Yugoslav Committee abroad to claim independence as well as unity, to repudiate the Habsburgs (in a manifesto on the eve of the Budapest coronation) and to exalt the achievements of Serbia and the Karagjorgjević dynasty. The three groups communicated secretly through Switzerland, and it was felt that the time had come for the exiles to take a fresh step forward, in view of the prominence given to the doctrine of self-determination since the Russian Revolution and America’s entry into the war. Moreover the collapse of Tsarism had deprived Mr. Pašić of his strongest support abroad, and forced him to abandon his narrowly Orthodox basis and bring his policy more into line with modern democratic tendencies.

Declaration of Corfu

After some weeks of negotiation the so-called “Declaration of Corfu” was signed on July 20 1917, between Pašić as Serbian Premier (and in this case as the mouthpiece of all the Serbian parties) and Dr. Trumbić as president of the Yugoslav Committee. The signatories were careful to disclaim all idea of a pact or treaty, and to define the declaration as a mere statement of ideals and principles which could not acquire binding force until ratified by elected representatives of the nation as a whole. It may however be regarded as the birth certificate of the future Yugoslavia, and as fixing the lines of future development. After affirming that the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes constitute a single nation and appealing to the right of self-determination, it declared in favour of complete national unity under the Karagjorgjević dynasty, “a constitutional democratic and parliamentary monarchy, equality of the three national names and flags, of the Cyrilline and Latin alphabets, and of the Orthodox Catholic and Mussulman religions, equal rights for all citizens, universal suffrage in parliamentary and municipal life, and the freedom of the Adriatic to all nations.” The future constitution was to be established after the conclusion of peace by a constituent assembly, which “will be the source and consummation of all authority in the State.” A week later Trumbić and his colleagues were welcomed on the Balkan front by the Voivode Mišić with an impassioned speech in favour of unity. The Declaration of Corfu made a profound impression in Austria-Hungary, which was heightened by Mr. Lloyd George’s speech in honour of Serbia at a luncheon given by the Serbian Society of Great Britain to Pašić (Aug. 8). The Zagreb press could only comment indirectly, but conveyed its meaning by insisting that the Reichsrat programme of May 30 was an absolute minimum. The growing self-confidence of the Austrian Slavs was shown by the bluntness of their refusal to coöperate with the new Premier, Doctor von Seidler, whose offer of portfolios to their leaders drew from Count Tisza a strong protest in the Hungarian Parliament. Under Magyar pressure Seidler explicitly condemned all schemes of federalism, and pledged the Government and even the crown itself not to adopt any reforms which did not leave untouched the existing provincial boundaries. The Czechs and Yugoslavs, finding the door thus shut in the face of their national aspirations, even in the modified Habsburg form, naturally stiffened in their opposition. On Dec. 18 they went so far as to demand national representation of their own at the peace negotiations with Bolshevist Russia at Brest Litovsk.

Pact of Rome

During 1916-7 Italian public opinion, encouraged by Sonnino and his press organs, had been definitely hostile to the Yugoslavs, whom it denounced as mere Austrian agents. The facts regarding the Yugoslav legions and the services rendered by Yugoslav deserters at Gorizia and in the Trentino were simply suppressed. The disaster of Caporetto (Nov. 1917) had a sobering effect, and the need for solidarity on the part of all the subject nationalities of Austria-Hungary, — a category which included also Italians, — if Italy’s chief enemy was to be overthrown, became increasingly apparent. Further causes for alarms were the secret meeting between General Smuts and Count Mensdorv, to discuss a separate peace between Austria and the Entente (Dec. 1917) and the public pronouncements of President Wilson and Mr. Lloyd George in favour of “autonomy” for the subject races, instead of the independence held out to them by the Allied pronouncement of Jan. 1917. In Dec. 1917 Mr. Wickham Steed succeeded in bringing together Trumbić and his colleagues first with General Mola and Signori Emanuel and Chiesi (of the Corriere and Secolo), and then with the Italian Irredentist Socialist leaders. Their informal discussions laid the basis for more serious negotiations between Trumbić and Signor Torre, representing an influential committee of Italian deputies and senators. The agreement signed between them in London on March 7 1918 laid down the basis of Italo-Yugoslav coöperation: it recognized each of the two nations to be equally interested in the completion of the other’s national unity, and in the liberation of the Adriatic. It left territorial questions to be decided amicably after the war, “on the basis of the principle of nationality and self-determination,” and mutually guaranteed the rights of national minorities. This agreement is known as the Pact of Rome, because it was publicly proclaimed at a “Congress of the Oppressed Nationalities of Austria-Hungary,” held on April 8 in the Roman Capitol. The Yugoslavs were represented by Trumbić and his Committee and by 12 deputies of the Serbian Skupština, the Czechoslovaks by Beneš and Štefanik, the Poles by Zamorski, Skirmunt and Seyda, the Rumanians by Draghicescu, Lupu and Mironescu. Baron Sonnino held aloof, but Premier Signor Orlando, greeted the congress with enthusiasm, and the first result was a combined propaganda on the Italian front, organized by Allied delegates and members of all the national committees. The effect of the congress and of this propaganda was to hasten the disintegration in the Austro-Hungarian army, and the High Command (in a communiqué of July 27) admitted that wholesale defections of the Czechoslovaks and the Yugoslavs had materially contributed to Italy’s brilliant stand against the last Piave offensive in June. Unfortunately, while the new Czechoslovak army was recognized by Italy and took its place in the front line, Baron Sonnino, for political reasons, vetoed the formation of similar Yugoslav legions, though General Diaz had consented, and though the Yugoslavs interned at Nocera and elsewhere were clamouring to be enrolled.

Collapse of Austria-Hungary

Meanwhile the Roman congress was deliberately imitated by an imposing congress at Prague (May 16), at which Czech, Polish, Italian, Rumanian, Slovak and Yugoslav delegates attended. Among the latter were the mayor of Zagreb, the poet Vojnović, and prominent Serb, Croat and Slovene deputies of all parties, including the peasant leader Stephen Radić and the future minister Pribičević. Their resolutions, though necessarily vague, amounted to a pledge of mutual support in the cause of unity and independence. During 1918, the initiative among the Yugoslavs of the Monarchy fell more and more into the hands of the Slovenes, led by Father Korošec since the premature death of Monsignor Krek. The official recognition accorded to the Pact of Rome by Mr. Lansing in the name of America (May 31) was a fresh encouragement: and Korošec, after constituting a Yugoslav National Council for the furtherance of unity, convoked a new Slav congress at Lyublyana (Ljubljana) on Aug. 18. The demonstrative part taken by the prince-bishop Jeglić and the leading Catholic clergy, and the fact that the Emperor’s birthday was entirely disregarded, was intended as an answer to those who claimed the Slovene Catholics as a bulwark of the Habsburg throne. The central authority in Austria was steadily breaking down, and the food crisis was rendered still more acute by the widespread formation of “Green Cadres” — well organized armed bands which held positions in the mountains and defied capture. As early as Feb. a mainly Yugoslav revolutionary committee had almost gained control of the Cattaro naval base, which would have fallen into Entente hands if the ringleaders, who crossed the Adriatic for help, had not been detained by subordinate Italian subordinates until the Pola squadron had time to crush the mutiny. Moreover the High Command viewed with alarm the growth of “Septembrist” doctrine among the troops — i.e. the insistence upon “peace by September” and a refusal to face a fifth winter in the trenches.

During the late summer the authorities in Vienna and Budapest keenly debated rival plans for solving the southern Slav question — in every case, however, in accordance with Austrian or Hungarian rather than Yugoslav interests. Strangely enough the only attempts to consult the Yugoslavs themselves were an audience to which the Emperor Charles summoned Father Korošec and a journey undertaken by Count Tisza in Sept., with the crown’s approval, to Zagreb, Sarajevo and Dalmatia. This last attempt to win support for the Magyar solution was everywhere met with a blank refusal, and in Bosnia especially the Orthodox, Catholic and Moslem leaders united in a manifesto assuring him of their adherence to the full programme of Yugoslav unity. The surrender of Bulgaria (Sept. 30) naturally rendered the nationalities indisposed to concessions, and the Austrian Premier’s admission that national autonomy was now inevitable was icily received. The Czech and Yugoslav spokesmen in the Reichsrat insisted upon separate representation at the peace negotiations, and the absolute right to decide their own future State allegiance (Oct. 1).

Events now followed each other with lightning speed. On Oct. 4 Austria-Hungary, in a note to America, accepted President Wilson’s speeches as a basis of discussion, and on the 8th Baron Hussarek admitted that the Monarchy’s internal structure must be modified, and “full-grown nations” determine their own future. This only precipitated the collapse, and while Count Tisza voiced Hungarian public opinion in declaring the basis of the Dual system to be shattered, the Yugoslav National Council was transplanted from Ljubljana to Zagreb and strengthened by the inclusion of representatives of all parties (Oct. 10). On the 16th the Hungarian Government declared in favour of personal union, and next day Hussarek published an imperial proclamation, dividing Austria (not Austria-Hungary) into four federal units (German, Czech, Yugoslav and Ukrainian) and leaving the Poles to make their own decision. This project was stillborn and pleased no one. Korošec in the name of the Czech and Yugoslav Clubs unreservedly rejected it and claimed that the future of both nations was an international problem which only the future Peace Conference could solve. Henceforth the Yugoslavs acted independently of both Vienna and Budapest; and when on Oct. 21 the news of President Wilson’s answer to Count Burián’s final peace note (refusing to negotiate save on the basis of a recognition of Czechoslovak and Yugoslav national claims) became generally known, the old régime vanished almost as if by magic. Extraordinary scenes took place in many towns, the troops tearing off their military badges with the Habsburg arms, and trampling them underfoot. National councils were speedily formed in Dalmatia and Bosnia, which arranged for the disarmament of the troops pouring northward from the broken Albanian and Macedonian fronts. As early as the 23rd a Croat regiment stationed in Fiume disarmed the Magyar militia and took possession of the town. On the 24th Count Andrássy was appointed joint foreign minister, but the machinery of State had ceased to work, and both the Austrian and Hungarian Cabinets were in statu demissionis. On the 28th (the same day on which the Czechoslovak Republic was born in Prague) the military command in Zagreb handed over its authority to the National Council, and next day the diet proclaimed the independence of Croatia from Hungary, and assumed control of Fiume. The arsenals of Pola and Cattaro were already in the hands of the insurgents; and the Emperor Charles, in the hope either of winning the favour of the new régime in Zagreb or of throwing an apple of discord between it and the Entente, signed a decree on Oct. 31 making over the whole Austro-Hungarian fleet to the Yugoslav State. This was not unnaturally interpreted by the Italian Nationalists as a proof of collusion between Zagreb and Vienna; nor was it generally known that as early as Oct. 4 Štepanek and Giunio, as delegates of the Czech and Yugoslav revolutionary committees, reached Italy in a fishing-boat, to concert with the Allies a general rising along the coast, but were closely imprisoned in Rome and not allowed to communicate with Doctor Beneš and Doctor Trumbić till nearly three weeks had been lost. But for this delay the fleet might have been in the Entente’s hands a fortnight before the final Italian offensive opened on the Piave. Unhappily every step led to a fresh misunderstanding. The action of the Supreme Council in Paris in prescribing the frontier line of the secret treaty of London as the line of occupation under the Austro-Hungarian armistice was keenly resented by the Yugoslavs as a breach with Wilsonian principles. The Allies very properly insisted that the fleet must be surrendered into their hands, but before this could take place a deplorable incident occurred in Pola harbour, the “Viribus Unitis” being blown up by an Italian mine, with a Yugoslav admiral and crew on board. In Italy Baron Sonnino’s frankly anti-Slav attitude threw the Pact of Rome into the shade; and the Consulta worked hard to prevent Yugoslavia’s recognition by the Allies.

Rival “Great Serb” and “Yugoslav” Programmes

That this recognition had not already been accorded before the collapse of the Central Powers began was due to disunion among the Yugoslavs themselves. During the summer America gave a lead to the Allies by accepting the Yugoslav programme, and after Austria’s failure on the Piave there was a growing disposition on the part of the western Powers to fall into line with Mr. Lansing’s very clear pronouncements. But Pašić, free from the restraints of a coalition and from all parliamentary control, had reverted to his original pan-Serb standpoint, and steadily declined to reconstruct his Cabinet on a wider Yugoslav basis. Trumbić on his part could not enter a purely Serbian Cabinet without prejudicing that freedom of choice of his compatriots in the Dual Monarchy, upon which the moral case of the Yugoslavs depended. A series of incidents proved the difference of outlook to be not merely personal but fundamental. In July Mr. Mihajlović, the Serbian minister at Washington, was summarily dismissed by Pašić, the reason being his refusal as a good Yugoslav to transmit to the American Government a project assigning Bosnia to Serbia as “compensation” in the event of a patched-up peace. On July 25 at the London Mansion House Mr. Balfour publicly indorsed the full Yugoslav programme, as formulated by the Serbian minister, Mr. Jovanović; but the latter’s full report to his home Government was answered by a severe snub, and during the winter he too was dismissed for his Yugoslav sentiments. When on Aug. 9 Mr. Balfour officially recognized the Czechoslovak National Council as “trustee of the future Czechoslovak Government,” he was ready to extend a similar recognition to the Yugoslav cause, but as a preliminary condition he very reasonably insisted upon unanimity between those who claimed to represent the two groups of Yugoslavs. Pašić adhered to his standpoint, and even the efforts of Venizelos and Take Jonescu to bring him and Trumbić together were unavailing. When in the last week of Oct. the rival statesmen moved from London to Paris, all hope of Yugoslav recognition before the opening of the Peace Conference had vanished, owing to the stiffening in the attitude of Italy.

Zagreb declares Independence

One of the first steps of the new Zagreb Government was to recognize Trumbić and his committee as its representatives abroad, and to send delegates to Switzerland to discuss the measures for consummating national unity. On Nov. 9 the Declaration of Geneva was signed by Pasic as Serbian Premier, Father Korošec, Doctor Čingrija (mayor and deputy of Ragusa) and Doctor Zerjav (a Slovene Progressive) for the Zagreb Council, Trumbić and four others for the Yugoslav Committee, and Trifković, Drašković and Marinković as chiefs of the Serbian opposition parties. “By this act,” it was laid down, “the new State appears and stands from to-day as an indivisible state-unit and as a member of the Society of Free Nations. The former frontiers no longer exist.” The Governments of Belgrade and Zagreb were to retain their former spheres until a constituent assembly, elected by universal suffrage, could draw up a new constitution. Yielding to the unanimous desire of the other delegates, Pašić officially requested the Entente to recognize the Zagreb Council as the supreme authority in the ex-Austro-Hungarian provinces, and Trumbić as its accredited representative in the West, until unification could be completed. The repeated efforts made by Pašić to avert so distasteful a decision were held to disqualify him from the leadership of the new united Cabinet, but in order to secure his renunciation it was found necessary to exclude the other party chiefs. This arrangement, however, never really came into force; for the simple reason that telegraphic communications between the West and Serbia were hopelessly irregular, and that events continued to move, with the advance of the Serbian army and civil authorities from the South and of the Italians from the West. On Nov. 8 Gen. Franchet d’Esperey received at Belgrade a Hungarian peace delegation under Count Károlyi, and concluded with them an armistice whose provisions still further complicated the situation. No orders were given for the evacuation of Slovakia; in Transylvania an impossible shaped line was drawn, such as left Cluj (Kolozsvar) and many pure Rumanian districts in Magyar hands; while the Rumanians were incensed by the assignment of Temesvár (Temisoara) and the whole Banat to Serbia. The Serbian army was also allowed to occupy the Backa, Syrmia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, but no territory farther west; and for a moment it seemed as though an attempt was being made to leave the Croats and Slovenes to their fate and to form an aggrandized Serbia on the lines advocated by Pasic and Petrograd in the summer of 1915. Any such development was, however, averted by the advance of the Italian army beyond the Armistice line, in the direction of Ljubljana. For to meet this danger, the Zagreb Government urgently invited the assistance of the Serbian army, which during the final advance contained a large proportion of Yugoslav volunteers. The first Serbian troops entered Fiume on Nov. 18, and a most dangerous situation arose between them and the Italians in Istria and Dalmatia, which was only very partially mitigated by the dispatch of American military and naval forces to Trieste and Fiume. Much of the blame falls upon the Supreme Council, which shrank from the only effective means of allaying friction — immediate Allied occupation of the disputed zone, pending the decision of the Peace Conference. The Council’s occasional outbursts against Italy only rendered Baron Sonnino still more intractable, and irritated Italian public opinion. No satisfactory solution was possible unless the Treaty of London was abrogated, and this involved the abandonment of other secret treaties to which Paris and London clung. America pointedly defined the Adriatic problem as a test case, but amid the pressure of other affairs it was allowed to drift.

Union proclaimed at Belgrade

The equivocal attitude of the Entente toward the new State naturally hastened the process of union. On Nov. 23 the Zagreb National Council proclaimed the union of the territories under its control with the Kingdoms of Serbia and Montenegro, and invited the Prince-Regent of Serbia to assume the regency of the new State. This decision (passed with only one dissentient voice, but that unhappily Stephen Radić, the peasant leader) took formal effect on Dec. 1, when Prince Alexander, at the formal request of 24 delegates from Zagreb, proclaimed the union and repeated their cry “Long live free and united Yugoslavia.” Meanwhile on Nov. 26 a hurriedly convoked national assembly at Podgoritsa had proclaimed the deposition of King Nicholas and his dynasty, and the union of Montenegro with Serbia in the new united State. The first Yugoslav Cabinet was constituted under Protić as Premier and Father Korošec as vice-Premier: Trumbić became foreign minister, and the other portfolios were divided more or less equally between Serbia and the new territories. Pašić was appointed principal delegate at the Peace Conference, with Trumbić, Vesnić (minister in Paris) and Žolger (a Slovene professor who had held office under Seidler in Austria).

The Adriatic Crisis

Apart from agrarian riots in Slavonia and Bosnia, the transition to the new régime was accomplished with remarkable ease. Italy’s claims upon Istria and Dalmatia rallied the Yugoslavs to the cause of national unity, and intense indignation was aroused by the action of the Entente in drawing an armistice line against Austria-Hungary almost identical with that prescribed by the secret treaty of London, and in sanctioning Italy’s prompt occupation of the disputed territory. Friction was increased by a whole series of incidents along the coast, by the deportation of prominent Yugoslavs to Italy and by the entry of Italian troops into Fiume, despite the protests of the Yugoslav civil and military authorities (Nov. 18). Meanwhile the whole Nationalist press of Italy, actively encouraged by Sonnino and his entourage, opened a fierce campaign against the Yugoslavs and their western supporters, which rapidly developed into agitation against the Allies. By the close of the year the situation had become so envenomed that Bissolati, the foremost Italian advocate of conciliation, found it necessary to withdraw from the Orlando Cabinet, and on Jan. 11 1919 was howled down at a great meeting in Milan. At the Paris Conference there was from the first a deadlock in the Adriatic dispute. Clemenceau and Lloyd George found themselves between two irreconcilable standpoints — between Sonnino, who claimed the liberal fulfilment of their treaty pledges, with the addition of the port of Fiume, and President Wilson, who refused all cognizance of the secret treaties and regarded them as expressly abrogated by the Allies when they accepted his successive notes as the basis of the Armistice. The three western Powers were in the impossible position of judges in a dispute to which one was a party, while the other two were accessories; the only Great Powers from whom an impartial verdict could be expected were Japan, who resolutely held aloof from purely European quarrels, and America, who quite logically regarded the Adriatic as a test case for the application of the new order in Europe. It was on these grounds that the Yugoslavs, from whom the treaty had always been carefully concealed and who had of course never recognized its validity, offered to submit the whole dispute to the arbitration of President Wilson (Feb. 11). On March 3, however, Italy, who had steadily refused to recognize the accomplished fact of Yugoslav unity and insisted on the Conference only admitting the Yugoslavs as a “Serbian” delegation, declined American arbitration and threatened to withdraw altogether from Paris unless their territorial demands were conceded. This in turn strengthened the hands of the extreme section among the Yugoslavs, who now advanced the full ethnographic claim, involving Trieste and Gorizia as well as Dalmatia and Istria, and at the same time increased their demands against Bulgaria, Austria and Albania. Nor was it very easy for the Serbs and Croats to show moderation toward Italy, without appearing to desert the Slovenes, at whose expense, for obvious geographical reasons, the main amputations must inevitably take place. The bad impression made by the claims now submitted to the Supreme Council was only partially removed by a speech of Trumbić and by his proposal to leave the settlement of frontiers to a plebiscite (April 16). This offer was made in the knowledge that the memorandum addressed by President Wilson two days previously to Orlando and Sonnino had met with rejection, and was indeed well calculated to heighten the contrast between the outlook of the two rival nations toward Wilsonian principles. The American note reaffirmed these principles as the accepted basis of armistice and peace, and insisted on applying the same methods toward Austria-Hungary as Germany. It accepted the Brenner as a fair strategic line on the north, but argued that the Treaty of London was no longer applicable in respect of Italy’s eastern frontier, since the line which it traced was designed to secure Italy against future Austro-Hungarian aggression, and Austria-Hungary had by now ceased to exist. It then defined what came to be known as “the Wilson Line,” which assigned to Italy Gorizia, Trieste and Istria west of the river Arsa, but not Fiume, which must become an international port, nor any points south of it, save perhaps Lissa and Valona; it also advocated the dismantling of the whole eastern Adriatic coast. On April 23 President Wilson followed up this private memorandum by a public manifesto to the Italian nation, in which he repudiated the Pact of London and appealed for the application of the same principles on the Adriatic as those enforced against Germany. Fiume, he declared, must be the outlet, not of Italy, but “of Hungary, Bohemia, Rumania and Yugoslavia.” Unhappily, despite its warm assurances of American friendship, this document met with a most hostile reception in Italy, where it was interpreted as an attempt to undermine the position of her spokesmen and so mete out to her a different measure from that prescribed by France and Britain. Thus the proposal entirely failed of its effect, and as Italy, Yugoslavia and America each adhered to its standpoint, and the two western Powers shrank from any constructive policy, a fresh deadlock ensued. At the end of May, however, M. Tardieu suggested a compromise by which the port and district of Fiume with most of eastern Istria and a total population of over 200,000 (mainly Yugoslavs) would form a small buffer state between Italy and Yugoslavia, under the guarantee of the League of Nations. President Wilson adhered to his own scheme, but made it clear that he would not oppose any direct agreement, whatever might be its terms; while the Yugoslavs, though accepting the idea of a buffer state, insisted upon their enjoying at Fiume a status analogous to that of Poland at Danzig, and added the impossible condition of a plebiscite after three years. During the final stages of the German treaty the Adriatic problem was once more shelved, until on June 29 and July 6 armed conflicts took place in the streets of Fiume between Italian and French soldiers, resulting in several deaths. A commission of inquiry was then at last appointed by the Allies, and ordered elections under inter-Allied control and the dissolution of the terrorist “League of Volunteers.” But on Sept. 12, the very day on which American and British police were to be installed, D’Annunzio and his Arditi occupied the town, with the open connivance of the Italian naval and military authorities though to the embarrassment of the Roman Cabinet. The Allies, so far from attempting to restore order, withdrew their forces and allowed their authority to be flouted. The fresh deadlock that ensued was by no means distasteful to Rome, which drew encouragement from Wilson’s increasing impotence at home and therefore played for time. At last on Dec. 9 1919 the Supreme Council (Clemenceau, Polk and Crowe) addressed a memorandum to Italy, outlining new terms of settlement — viz. the Wilson line (modified so as to leave Albona in Italy), a demilitarized buffer state, a special régime for Zara, cession of Pelagosa, Lissa and Lussin to Italy; Valona in full sovereignty, and an Italian mandate in Albania, under the League of Nations. The Italian claim of territorial continuity with Fiume was definitely rejected. Italy in her reply (Dec. 10) insisted on continuity (the real if unavowed motive of which was to control the port of Fiume in the interests of Trieste and Venice, and so retain some hold over Yugoslavia’s commercial development), demanded the island of Cherso and the neutralization of the Yugoslav coast, and suggested a triple division — the corpus separatum of Fiume to Italy, the port to the League of Nations, and the rest of the buffer state to Yugoslavia. On Jan. 6 1920 Nitti, meeting with no response, wrote to Lloyd George to demand the execution of the Pact of London.

At this stage the Yugoslav delegation committed a grave tactical blunder, Trumbić’s views being overridden by the Balkan imperialistic aims of Pašić. While pleading for a plebiscite against Italy and doing lip service to an independent Albania within the frontiers of 1913, it added that in the event of any revision of those frontiers Yugoslavia would claim Skutari and all territory north of the river Drin (Drim). The sole justification for such a claim lay in the terms of the Treaty of London, which the Yugoslavs could not adopt as a basis without stultifying their whole position against Italy. But Italy, in her next memorandum to the Conference (Jan. 9) thus found it easier to reaffirm the validity of the treaty, while arguing that as it had envisaged the creation of three separate states (Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia) rather than of a big Yugoslavia, the clause regarding Fiume could no longer be upheld. On Jan. 13 Clemenceau and Lloyd George addressed new proposals to the Yugoslavs, in the form of a scarcely veiled ultimatum. The buffer state was now abandoned, the corpus separatum (with territorial continuity) falling to Italy, Sušak to Yugoslavia and the port of Fiume to the League of Nations; Italy was also to receive Lussin, Lissa and the Albanian mandate, while Zara was to be independent under the League. In originating this impromptu scheme, Lloyd George was influenced by secret indications that the Serbian reactionaries, if promised Skutari in return for Fiume, might throw over Trumbić and abandon the Wilson Line and American principles generally. As however Trumbić rallied the Yugoslav delegation to refuse the Franco-British project, Clemenceau the very next day introduced the important modification that Fiume should be an independent state under the League. When the Yugoslavs placed various conditions upon their acceptance, they were bluntly informed that unless they accepted within four days, France and Britain would authorize the literal execution of the Treaty of London, thus leaving Fiume to Yugoslavia, but all northern Dalmatia in Italian hands (Jan. 20).

But this ultimatum was rendered invalid by a wire from Lansing, protesting against any settlement without the participation of America. Paris and London having assured Washington that neither concealment nor lack of courtesy was intended, Belgrade found it quite safe to reject the note of Jan. 20, which it pointedly described as “a friendly proposal, not as an injunction.” It further expressed its inability to believe that the Powers wished to impose “a treaty concluded unknown to it by third parties, and whose clauses have never been communicated to it.” (Jan. 28.) This incident led President Wilson to address to the Allied Cabinets a series of three notes (Feb. 10 and 25 and March 6) which will remain the classic documents of the controversy, and reduced his opponents to silence, though not to surrender.

After their passage the Adriatic question was again allowed to stagnate, the Powers resuming their negative attitude, while advocating direct discussion between the two parties. At last on April 25 Trumbić, having obtained the special sanction of the Belgrade Cabinet, informed Nitti of his readiness to negotiate, and a meeting between the two statesmen did actually take place at Pallanza on May 11; the commercial experts had already reached agreement. But the prospect of a settlement roused the Italian Nationalists to a final effort: the Nitti Cabinet fell, and D’Annunzio, repeating his defiance of Europe, attempted a further raid upon Dalmatia. The continued presence of American warships on the Dalmatian coast alone prevented a series of brawls between Italian sailors and the Croat population from developing into open warfare. Fortunately the new Giolitti and Vesnić Cabinets showed equal moderation and skill in restraining the hotheads on both sides, and the new Foreign Minister, Count Sforza, was assisted by a personal knowledge of Serbian and Balkan problems all too rare among western statesmen. It was not however till the autumn that direct negotiations could be resumed, and by that time the eclipse of President Wilson placed Italy at an advantage. By the Treaty of Rapallo (Nov. 12 1920) Italy acquired a frontier considerably farther east than the Wilson Line, and including the quicksilver mines of Istria, the watershed of the Julian Alps as far as Snježnik (Monte Nevoso), almost all Istria with Abbazia and Volosca, and a narrow strip of shore connecting it with Fiume.

The corpus separatum became an independent unit under the League of Nations, the Croat suburb of Sušak remaining in Yugoslavia and the Baros port being added as an outlet for Yugoslav trade. Zara became a free city under Italian sovereignty, but as a tiny isthmus without hinterland or islands. Italy renounced all claims to Dalmatia, and of the islands retained only Lussin and Cherso. Special linguistic and other privileges were assured to the Italian minority in the Dalmatian towns, but no corresponding charter was granted to the four to five hundred thousand Slovenes and Croats annexed to Italy. The settlement, though far from ideal, involved concessions on both sides; and Italy, though still forgetful of the principles enunciated at the Roman congress, could at least claim to be the only victorious Power which had relinquished its hold upon conquered territory. One practical result of the treaty was that Italy tacitly abandoned the cause of King Nicholas and accepted as inevitable Montenegro’s incorporation in Yugoslavia.

The New Frontiers

The consolidation of the new State was seriously delayed by the prolonged dispute with Italy and by the fact that for nearly two years after the Armistice the danger of an armed conflict could not be overlooked. But in five other directions also the frontiers were unregulated. (1). By the Armistice concluded at Belgrade on Nov. 12 1918 the Serbs were allowed to occupy Temesvár and most of the Banat, the east of which is overwhelmingly Rumanian and which was claimed in its entirety by Rumania, in right of her treaty of Aug. 1916 with the Allies. At the Paris Conference Rumania’s enforced conclusion of peace with Germany was treated as absolving the Allies from obligations which were admitted in the parallel case of the Italian treaty; and the necessity of a partition on mainly ethnographic lines was from the first admitted. The special commission, after hearing the views of Trumbić and Bratianu, recommended a line which as nearly as possible balanced the Serb and Rumanian minorities left to Rumania and Yugoslavia respectively, and secured to the latter the essentially Serb districts of Torontál county; but at the instance of the French this line was modified to include Vršac (Versecz) and Bela Crkva (Weisskirchen) in Yugoslavia. This has the disadvantage that while the Serbs are stronger than any other single race in the two towns, their cession involved the loss of many purely Rumanian villages by Rumania, and also her loss of the important railway line connecting Temesvár southward with the Danube. (2). The regulation of the new Yugoslav frontier with Austria proved very thorny. Thanks to the efforts of Trumbić and the Slovene experts in Paris, Marburg (Maribor), a town with a German majority but surrounded by a purely Slovene district, was assigned to Yugoslavia; but under the Treaty of St. Germain a roughly triangular district north of the Karawanken range was referred to a popular plebiscite.

The Inter-Allied Commission entrusted with the details was ordered to divide the disputed area into Zone A, mainly south of the river Drava (Drau) and Zone B, consisting of Klagenfurt and its basin, and to hold the plebiscite in the latter, only in the event of Zone A voting for Yugoslavia. After a keen contest between the rival Slovene and Pan-German propagandists, voting took place in Oct. 1920, and resulted in a majority of 12,747 for Austria. The fact that many Slovenes voted against Yugoslavia was largely due to a desire to escape from all military service. Zone B, with Klagenfurt, now automatically passed to Austria. (3). Against Bulgaria the Yugoslav delegation claimed considerable frontier rectifications — (a) the Strumnica salient, which threatened the Vardar railway from the east, (b) the district of Kochana (Tocana) and the Bregalnitsa (Bregalnica), (c) a strip of territory running parallel with the old Serbo-Bulgarian frontier the whole way from Zaječar to Kyustendil, and (d) the town of Vidin on the Danube and the salient between it and the Timok. These claims were regarded by the Peace Conference as excessive, and under the Treaty of Neuilly only the two first were allowed, though in place of the third the town and district of Tsaribrod were assigned to Yugoslavia, and thereby the main strategic key to Sofia.

This decision was so patently unjust that it has been very widely ascribed to a deliberate design to keep the two countries apart. (4). The Pan-Serb section of opinion in Belgrade, encouraged in this instance by some of the army chiefs for strategic reasons, has always coveted northern Albania; and the Montenegrin Unionists, led by Radović, made every effort to secure the adoption of their full claim by the Yugoslav delegation. This was opposed by Trumbić and all the more progressive elements in the new State, who realized that the claim to Skutari knocked the bottom out of the whole Yugoslav case against Italy and Austria. Thus the advocates of an unscrupulous “deal” on the lines of “Skutari for Fiume” failed to assert themselves, and Yugoslavia pronounced in favour of an independent Albania, merely reserving her right to share the spoils if it came to a general partition. After Giolitti’s renunciation of a mandate in Albania the claim to Skutari became untenable, and at last in 1921 the Supreme Council sanctioned the frontiers assigned to Albania in 1913. Yugoslavia’s relations with Albania, though simplified by this decision, have been affected by the Albanian counterclaim to Peć, Djakovo and the plain of Kosovo, where since the middle of last century the Albanian element had grown steadily stronger at the expense of the Serbs. The murder of Essad Pasha (June 1920) deprived the Serbs of their chief supporter in Albania; and friction was increased by the bad administration in the Sanjak and Macedonia, by the inability of the Durazzo Government to prevent continual armed raids against Serbian territory, and by the encouragement given from some Serbian quarters to the Mirdite rising in the summer of 1921. (5). The frontier with Hungary was the last to be regulated.

The Treaty of Trianon satisfied the most essential claims of Yugoslavia, by dividing the whole Banat (save a small Magyar triangle opposite the city of Szeged) between her and Rumania, and by assigning to her the whole Bačka (except Baja and district), part of the Baranya (forming the angle between Drave and Danube) and the Medjumurje (between Drava and Mur). Thus, in order to secure the town of Subotica (Szabadka) with its large Bunjevac (or Catholic Serb) population, she was allowed to annex not less than 250,000 Magyars. Her claim to Pécs (Fünfkirchen) was disallowed, but owing to the long delay in ratifying the treaty, Yugoslav troops remained in occupation of this district and its valuable coal-mines till Aug. 1921, when at the instance of the Supreme Council it was handed over to Hungary. Meanwhile Pécs had become a centre of the exiled Magyar progressives, who preferred a provisional Yugoslav régime to the white terror of Adml. Horthy. On the eve of evacuation an attempt was made in Pécs to reëstablish the Hungarian Republic under Count Károlyi, but owing to the communist views of some of its promoters the Belgrade Government withheld all support, and the movement promptly collapsed.

Internal Politics

So long as vital frontier disputes were unregulated, the central Government in Belgrade held that elections could not be held, and governed for the first, two years through a provisional Parliament, for which no one could claim a really representative character. The deputies for Serbia held mandates which had actually expired as long ago as June 1914, but whose renewal war and invasion had effectually prevented: those for Croatia had been elected in Jan. 1914, those for Montenegro were delegated by the revolutionary assembly of Podgorica in Nov. 1918. But in Bosnia and most of the other provinces the deputies had no popular mandate whatever, beyond being members of the self-constituted local committees which had sprung up amid the ferment of the revolution. Meanwhile the union of so many distinct political organisms had reduced the party system to chaos, and the first two years were taken up by a process of regrouping, the dominant issue being Centralism versus Federalism. In accordance with the Declaration of Corfu, the decision regarding the actual form of the State was left to a constituent assembly; but as the machinery of Belgrade was naturally quite inadequate to the task of administering a country three times the size of the Serbia of 1914, the provincial Governments of Croatia (with the Ban at its head), Slovenia, Dalmatia and Bosnia continued to function, though the local diets were no longer summoned.

During 1919 internal politics centred in a struggle between the Radicals, who still possessed the best party machine and stood for a narrowly Serbian as opposed to a Yugoslav programme, and the newly constituted Democratic party, which absorbed most of the Serbian Opposition parties, the old Serbo-Croat coalition of Zagreb, and the Slovene Liberals. The Radicals of Serbia being conservative in all but name, made a working alliance with the clericals of Zagreb and Ljubljana, and under the leadership of Protić favoured decentralization, combined with concessions to the expropriated landowners. But in the land question the Radical party was paralyzed by its Bosnian wing, which sided with the peasantry; and thus in Sept. Protić was replaced by Davidović, the Democrat leader, and though the Government remained a coalition, its weight was transferred farther to the Left. An internal trial of strength continued throughout the winter between the rival governmental groups, until in May 1920 a breach was only averted by a reconstruction of the Cabinet under Vesnić, who as Serbian minister in Paris since 1904 enjoyed wide prestige, and though a Radical, stood aloof from party dissensions. Under his weaker but more neutral guidance, and aided by the unifying force of the Adriatic crisis, the parties reached agreement upon a new parliamentary franchise, based on universal suffrage. Though otherwise progressive, this law committed the injustice of temporarily disfranchising the non-Yugoslav minorities, on the convenient pretext that they could not claim the vote until the expiry of the two years during which the Treaty of Trianon secures their right to choose citizenship in a neighbouring State. This law was the last serious act of the provisional Parliament, which had shown itself singularly barren in legislation, and contrasts most unfavourably with the first assemblies of all the other “Succession States.”

The elections to the Constituent Assembly (Nov. 1920) did not clear up the situation as had been expected. No party secured an absolute majority, and the two strongest, the Radicals and Democrats, being almost exactly balanced, were forced to strengthen still further their unnatural alliance. In open opposition stood (1) Stephen Radić, the Croat peasant leader whom the Democrats had unwisely imprisoned in 1919-20, and who now swept the boards in Croatia with a Republican and Federalist programme and induced his party of 50 to absent itself from the Constituent; (2) the Croat and Slovene clericals, who strongly opposed centralization, and (3) the 58 Communists, led by a small group of extreme theorists, but owing their strength to the subversive elements in the Baćka, Macedonia and Montenegro and the secret aid of the Carlists in Vienna and Budapest. As the coalition lacked the necessary majority, it was reduced to gathering support piecemeal among the more neutral groups; and for this task Pašić, who became Premier in Jan. 1921, was specially qualified.

By the promise of 100 million dinars to the expropriated Begs, he won over the Moslems of Bosnia, and by similar methods he detached the Slovene section of the newly founded Agricultural party (Zemljoradnici). But though he was thus able to carry the first reading of the new constitution by 227 to 93 votes, he was faced by the passive resistance of the great majority of Croats and Slovenes, who regarded with suspicion his “Great Serbian” and centralizing aims. It is significant that Protić, hitherto Pašić’s most intimate associate, withdrew from the Radical party and from Parliament rather than sanction a constitution so inimical to provincial interests; while Trumbić, the foremost advocate of full national unity, recorded his vote against it. In many quarters it was openly accepted on the ground that any constitution was better than none, and that further delays and discussions would arrest the new State’s development and discredit it abroad; but the settlement could not be regarded as definitive.

On June 28 (Kosovo Day) the Prince Regent took oath to the new constitution, but the ceremony was marred by an attempt to assassinate him and the premier, by a bomb thrown as they drove back to the palace. This outrage, which was traced to the Communists, provided fresh proof that the Democratic leader Drašković, as Minister of the Interior, was justified in his charges of widespread terrorist conspiracy and even in the much debated Decrees (Obznane) by which he sought to combat them. When then on July 21 Drašković was murdered by a young Bosnian Communist, Parliament resolved on reprisals, and 10 days later passed by 190 to 54 laws of extraordinary severity for “the Defence of the State,” terrorist agitation being made punishable by death, prolonged penal servitude or heavy fines. The mandates of the 58 Communist deputies were annulled, and eight arrested as privy to the attempt on the Regent. No less an authority than the ex-premier Protić publicly challenged the constitutional validity of such action.

Despite acute party dissensions and bad administration the new State was in 1921 steadily consolidating itself. Separatism was non-existent, for the cogent reason that there was no point toward which a new irredenta could gravitate: the Habsburg cause had no adherents, save a few discredited traitors who congregated in Graz and Vienna; and communism, which was quite alien to an agrarian and peasant-owned State, owed its passing success to the aftermath of war and the blunders of the middle class rather than to its own attractions. There was general agreement on foreign policy, whose pivots were close alliance with Czechoslovakia, the series of bilateral agreements which made up the Little Entente (Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia Aug. 14 1920; Czechoslovakia and Rumania April 23 1921; Yugoslavia and Rumania June 7 1921), and the anti-Habsburg agreement concluded with Italy simultaneously with the Treaty of Rapallo (Nov. 12 1920). Yugoslavia’s economic recovery had been surprisingly rapid, and the chief problems which confronted her in the autumn of 1921 were how best to exploit her vast undeveloped mineral and agricultural resources, improve her very faulty communications, and root out the illiteracy which was a legacy of alien rule.

Further Reading
V. Klaić, Povjest Hrvata (5 vols., 1901-11); F. Sišić, Geschichte der Kroaten (to 1,102, 1917) and Hrvatska Povijest (3 vols., 1911-4); R. W. Seton-Watson, The Southern Slav Question (1911; much enlarged German ed., 1913); V. Zagorsky, François Racki et la renaissance de la Croatie (1909); T. G. Masaryk, Vasić-Forgách-Aehrenthal (1911); A. H. E. Taylor, The Future of the Southern Slavs (1916); M. Kossitch, Die Südslavenfrage (1918); L. V. Südland, Die Südslavische Frage und der Weltkrieg (1918, Austrophil); J. Duhem, La question yougoslave (1918); V. Kuhne, Ceux dont on ignore le martyre (1917) and Les Bulgares peints par eux-mêmes (1917); F. Barac, Croats and Slovenes Friends of the Entente (1919, contains important original documents); The Southern Slav Library (8 pamphlets published by the Yugoslav Committee 1915-8). On Bosnia, see A. Fournier, Wie wir zu Bosnien kamen (1909); J. Cvijić, L’Annexion de Bosnie (1909); F. Schmidt, Bosnien-Herzegovina (1914). On Banat, see Radonić, Histoire des Serbes de Hongrie (1919, with documents). On Dalmatia, see G. Prezzolini, La Dalmazia (1915); Lujo Vojnović, Dalmatia (1920); Dalmaticus, La question de la Dalmatie (1918). On Adriatic questions, see C. Maranelli and G. Salvemini, La Questione dell’ Adriatice (2nd ed., 1919); Angelo Vivanti, L’Irrédentisme adriatique (1917, Italian original published 1912); F. Sišic, History of Fiume (1919); L. Hautecoeur, L’Italie sous Orlando (1919); two collections of documents, viz. F. Sišic, Jadransko Pitanje (1920) and Adriaticus, La question adriatique (1920). On the new constitution, see published text and also S. Protić, Nacrt Ustava (1920); J. Smodlaka, Nacrt Jugoslovenskog Ustava (1920).

    • Baltic yearbook of international law; v.7, 2007. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2008
    • International Encyclopedia of Comparative Law – Volume 8, Part 2



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