Prelude to Genocide 1
The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia sought to organize itself into a system similar to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR). It was formally divided into six semi-autonomous republics: Socialist Republics of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia. The region was divided by ethnicity as well as by religion: Orthodox Christian Serbs, Muslim Bosnians (Bosniaks), Catholic Croats, ethnically Muslim Albanians and other minorities. Nationalism saw a surge after the war ended that encouraged people to establish their own sovereign nations.
Running the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was Josip Broz Tito. While in power, 1944-1980, he strictly suppressed any nationalist sentiment and was able to control and limit ethnic tensions and violence through his dictatorial leadership. Marshal Tito’s agenda was to ensure that no single ethnic group would be able to dominate the country. His goal was to create a singular overarching Yugoslav and communist identity. Tito died in 1980 and his idealistic plan briefly survived. Without a powerful figure to withhold them, the republics claimed independence from the Yugoslav federation using ethnic and religious differences to incite conflict.