Communist Yugoslavia was a product of the Second World War. The Yugoslavs’ experience of that war and the way it was interpreted by outsiders and historians shaped the nature of the new state and how it was perceived through to Tito’s death. The memory of war was a crucial factor in the resurgent Serb nationalism of the 1980s prior to the final collapse of the country, and it is commonly held that revisionist interpretations of the Second World War fed into that nationalist rhetoric. Commentators drew on the received understanding of the war in their explanations of events in the 1990s. Often the Wars of Yugoslav Succession were depicted as a re-enactment of aspects of the 1941–5 conflict. Clearly, the war invites serious reflection from historians, and there are a number of valuable books on the subject. Yet nowhere is the general poverty of Yugoslav historiography more obvious than in works relating to the period 1941–5. A partial explanation for this may be found in the decisive shift in international thinking about what constituted Yugoslavism that took place in these years and the impact of this shift on the Yugoslav state in the postwar world.
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