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The Paris peace conference of 1919-1920: A Yugoslav perspective

The peace delegation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes began to convene in Paris in early January 1919 without much preparation but with many uncertainties surrounding it. The country had been proclaimed the previous month, amid chaos, insecurity and euphoria, following four years of the hitherto most destructive war in human history. The Yugoslavs had formed Yugoslavia on the premise of the national self-determination of the three-named nation of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, but an enormous task of unifying different traditions, cultures, legal and economic systems awaited them. The building had to be carried out simultaneously with rebuilding – of destroyed infrastructure and of societies deeply scarred by war wounds.

Nikola Pašić and Ante Trumbić, the leaders of the delegation, did not get on, their differences originating in conflicting wartime visions of a future Yugoslav state. Yugoslavia’s allies did not recognize the country’s delegation in Paris. Its major opponent was Italy, one of the powers running the Peace Conference. Yet, the delegation also enjoyed some advantages: Serbia’s prestige was high due to its heroic contribution to the war effort; their internal differences notwithstanding, Pašić and Trumbić shared a common goal – international recognition of the Serb-Croat-Slovene kingdom in as extended borders as possible – and were determined to fulfil it; both men were experienced politicians, surrounded, in most cases, by highly competent colleagues; the Yugoslav claims largely – but not entirely – concerned territories populated by South Slavs, and the new Serb-Croat-Slovene army was in control of much of the Yugoslav territory. In the sympathetic President Wilson, and in the principle of national self-determination, they had two powerful weapons with which to counter the rival claims of their neighbours. By the time the delegation left Paris in July 1920, it had secured international recognition of the country and most territories it originally claimed. The exception was the dispute with Italy over the eastern Adriatic, which could not be settled in Paris. It would be eventually resolved in Rapallo in November 1920, to the full satisfaction of neither side. The Yugoslavs made major concessions, but so did the Italians. The new state appeared politically and economically viable and its future seemed bright. As did that of the new international order created in Paris, of which Yugoslavia would be a ‘worthy member’, as Milenko Vesnić optimistically proclaimed in January 1920.[1]

Like most of Europe, Yugoslavia would remain unstable throughout the interwar period. The international predicament was relatively benign when compared with problems at home. Unrest in Kosovo and Macedonia and alienation among many Montenegrins and Croats for the way Yugoslavia had been united, not to mention the social-economic consequences of the war, would have posed a major challenge to states far longer established than the newly formed Serb-Croat-Slovene kingdom. Yet, by the early to mid-1920s the country seemed to have overcome most of the initial problems, some of which briefly threatened its existence.

It was the Serb-Croat question that was central to the country’s (in)stability during the interwar years. The relationship between Pašić and Trumbić was symptomatic of the wider Serb-Croat dynamics in Yugoslavia. Pašić’s views were Serbo-centric, meaning that Yugoslavia was to be based on the successful Serbian model of a centralized nation-state. Trumbić’s Croatian perspective preferred a decentralized state, possibly on a dual Serb-Croat basis. But, in 1919 dual and ‘complex’ states represented a defeated model, whereas ‘simple’ nation states appeared to be the future.

The reasons for the disagreements within the delegation and between Pašić and Trumbić should not be sought in some old Serb-Croat animosity. In addition to their mutually competing visions of a united Yugoslavia and of a clash of two strong personalities, differences emerged partly due to another conflict of ideologies: the nationality principle vs Realpolitik. The contest between the Wilsonian principles and traditional diplomacy was of course symptomatic of the whole Conference.

Trumbić understandably believed that insisting on national self-determination placed the Yugoslavs in Dalmatia and the north-west Adriatic in a superior position over Italy. Of all Yugoslav claims, those in the eastern Adriatic were the strongest because they rested on the nationality principle. Yet, they were also the most vulnerable because of Italy’s rival claims. Demands elsewhere were not so clearly supported by the nationality principle but had much more chance of a success because they competed with the aspirations of defeated countries, with the important exception of Romania. Serbia’s – and Pašić’s – old allies, Britain and France, encouraged the Yugoslavs to sacrifice territory in the eastern Adriatic in exchange for ‘compensation’ in the north and east and possibly south. Wilson, on the other hand, openly sided with the Yugoslavs in their contest with the Italians. These mixed messages from the principal allies contributed to divisions among the Yugoslavs.

Pašić’s thinking in Paris was influenced by several factors. First, he behaved as the  leader of a victorious power that should be rewarded for its victory with additional territory of strategic importance, especially for Belgrade and Serbia. Secondly, as a native of eastern Serbia, his views were shaped by Serb-Bulgarian rivalry, not just over Macedonia, and the recent experiences of brutal Bulgarian occupation of parts of Serbia. He was determined that Bulgaria should be punished and weakened to the extent that it would never again be in a position to invade Serbia. Pašić’s views were still very much those of a Serbian leader, not of a representative of the newly formed Yugoslav state.

In any case compromises between the principle of nationality and old diplomacy had to be made and were made: among the Yugoslavs and among the Allies. Trumbić and Pašić were rivals, but they were also allies who, despite all the differences, achieved considerable success in Paris, as they had during the course of the war.

As for the postwar order, Pašić did not share Trumbić’s – or Wilson’s for that matter – idealism in respect of international peace. In that respect, his views were comparable to those of another veteran European statesmen – Clemenceau. A direct participant in various wars between 1875 and 1918, Pašić believed in 1919 that the Great Powers were merely recuperating before another inevitable confrontation. Unfortunately, events would prove him right. It is debatable whether even he could have foreseen the extent of violence and destruction that would erupt only twenty years later in a global conflict that was fought between the opponents and the defenders of the Paris settlement.

Pašić and Trumbić after the Conference

In 1919 it looked as if the Peace Conference would mark the end of a distinguished political career, due to Pašić’s advanced age and a damaged relationship with Prince Regent Alexander, whose influence in the political life of the country was considerable. At the same time, it seemed as if Trumbić – twenty years younger and with better ‘Yugoslav credentials’ – was destined to become the political leader of the new country. It would turn out that Pašić had another political life after Paris, while Trumbić’s career at the top end of politics virtually ended soon afterwards. Paris was to be Trumbić’s zenith, but for Pašić it represented a short break before a return to dominating the politics of his country one final time.

It is hard to determine to what extent the paths the careers of Pašić and Trumbić took after Paris were due to their own actions and to what degree these were symptomatic of the way Yugoslavia’s political life developed. It is probably the case that both factors played a part. In retrospect, it is regretful that Trumbić did not emerge as one of Yugoslavia’s principal political leaders after the Conference. Ten years later, King Alexander allegedly thought so. ‘Why didn’t he [Trumbić] listen to me when I advised him after Rapallo that he should not join any political party?’, Alexander told sculptor Ivan Meštrović, a former member of the Yugoslav Committee who was on friendly terms with both the King and Trumbić, in August 1930. ‘This era would have been ideal for him. Yugoslavism for which we fought in the war could not be implemented immediately, there were obstacles. Now is the time. If he had listened to me, he would now be one of the leading [political figures].’ Alexander was wrong: Trumbić did not join any political party after Rapallo, but initially pursued political career as an independent MP, before forming his own political party in the mid-1920s. In any case, a Croatian journalist close to the king later told Trumbić that Alexander was ‘yearning’ to reestablish ‘direct and personal contacts’ with him.[2] It is, of course, debatable whether Trumbić would have cooperated with a dictatorship, and in any event he had long abandoned his earlier Yugoslavism by the time the conversation between Alexander and Meštrović took place.

Following the signing of the Rapallo Treaty, Trumbić returned home. With the Adriatic question off the agenda, he resigned as Foreign Minister in December that year, keeping his word. In late November he had been elected to the Constituent Assembly as an independent candidate. There, he would once again square with his old opponent Pašić, whose Radical Party was pushing for a centralist Constitution. Trumbić complained to Slobodan Jovanović that he had lost all contact with Pašić and the Prince Regent. He asked Jovanović to convey his message to them: it would be a grave mistake to impose the centralism of old Serbia on the Croats, who should be offered some form of autonomy, however minimal. A centralist Constitution would impede any possibility of a Serb-Croat agreement, he warned. If I were certain that Serbs understood the dangers of centralism, I would go to Zagreb tomorrow to start a [political] struggle against [Stjepan] Radić, Trumbić told Jovanović.[3]  

Trumbić was not the only opponent of Pašić’s centralism. Smodlaka and Korošec offered alternative constitutional proposals, as did Protić. They all argued in favour of a decentralized state – a compromise between centralism and federalism – but Pašić, supported by Davidović, the main Muslim parties and by the absence of Stjepan Radić’s Peasants, the new dominant political force in Croatia, was able to have his way. The first, highly centralist, Constitution of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was promulgated  on 28 June 1921.

The victory in the constitutional battle symbolized Pašić’s return to the very top of his country’s political pyramid and the beginning of his domination of Yugoslav politics in the first half of the 1920s. Yet, his victory would prove to be Pyrrhic in the long run. Instead of bringing stability, the Constitution destabilized the country’s political life throughout a decade which began with such promise, but ended in tragedy. One of Pašić’s greatest political errors was that he misunderstood, and possibly underestimated, the Croat opposition to centralism. He mistakenly treated the Croatian Peasant Party like any other political party, when in reality it was a national movement. Even Pašić did not command as much support among the Serbs as did Radić among the Croats in the 1920s. The Croatian Peasant Party regularly received around 90 per cent of the Croat vote during the interwar period, which no Serb-dominated party could achieve. Pašić erroneously believed that the Croat question could be solved by merely including Croat parties in government.[4]

Pašić served as prime minister of the Serb-Croat-Slovene kingdom for the entire period between January 1921 and April 1926, with the exception of Davidović’s ‘100-day’ government in 1924. He headed ten different cabinets – a sign of political instability that was not unique to Yugoslavia or to East-Central Europe. The average six-months Pašić cabinet was not unlike the average life span of a cabinet in the French Third and Fourth republics.[5] Yet, such frequent elections and cabinet reshuffles suggest that even the largest political party in Yugoslavia was not strong enough to form stable, long-lasting governments. Pašić was able to stay in government so long largely because he always found a willing coalition partner: the Slovenes, the Bosnian Muslims, Pribićević’s Independent Democrats … and in 1925 even Radić’s Croat Peasants. The first half of the 1920s marked the final phase of an extremely successful career in politics which properly took off with Pašić’s election to the Serbian parliament in 1878.

There was life after Paris for Pašić’s Balkan counterparts, too: Brătianu, having resigned in 1919, returned to office in Romania three years later and served as prime minister for another four years; as did Venizelos in the late 1920s and early 1930s Greece. The exception was the unfortunate Stamboliĭski, murdered in Bulgaria in 1923. For the ‘Big Four’, on the other hand, Paris represented the zenith of their careers, with Lloyd George remaining in office longest, until 1922.

Although Trumbić was only 56 when the Peace Conference ended, and even though he appeared a natural leader of a united Yugoslavia, he would never again reach the same political heights and would play a relatively insignificant role during the interwar period. There were three main reasons for this: first, Pašić’s concept of a Serb-dominated, centralist Yugoslavia prevailed during the formative period of the South Slav state; second, the period saw the emergence, with the introduction of universal male suffrage in former Habsburg territories, of Stjepan Radić’s Croatian Peasant Party. Radić’s political programme was based more on the national question than on peasant politics, and, as already noted, he would receive the vast majority of Croat votes during the 1920s. Trumbić, a believer in a unitary Serb-Croat-Slovene nation, but an opponent of centralism, was never likely to attract  a majority support in Yugoslavia at the time. Pašić’s Serb-style Yugoslav centralism and Radić’s Croat-centric populism were much more successful in attracting voters in a society as polarized as that of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. It was one of Trumbić’s major disappointments that Davidović’s Democrats had sided with Pašić in the debate over Constitution. Trumbić and the former Independent Radicals, who had provided the core for the Democratic Party, more often than not had stood together opposite Pašić during the war and Trumbić had hoped they would be natural postwar allies. Thirdly, Trumbić may have been an exceptionally gifted lawyer and campaigner – R.W. Seton-Watson described him as ‘the most brilliant advocate’ whose ‘powers of argument, though perhaps somewhat prolix according to Western standards, reached memorable heights’[6] – but he was ultimately not a great politician. Pašić frequently outmanoeuvred him, while Radić probably used him for his contacts in Belgrade and influence among pro-Yugoslav Croats. Trumbić was perhaps too egotistical and personal in order to truly succeed in politics.[7]

Gradually, by the mid-1920s, Trumbić had come to abandon unitarism and moved closer to Radić, but only temporarily. In 1925, Pašić and Radić reached an agreement after which the Croatian Peasant Party entered government, with Radić as Education Minister. Trumbić felt betrayed by Radić’s U-turn. In early 1926 he formed the Croatian Federalist Peasant Party, hoping to attract Radić’s dissidents. But neither they nor the increasingly fewer unitarist Yugoslavs among Croats would join the party en masse, and in any case, there were too few of them seriously to challenge Radić. Although Trumbić would be re-elected to parliament in the 1927 elections – the last ever democratic Yugoslav general elections – the Croat Federalists remained a marginal party and would eventually wither away. As for the Radicals, they would enter a period of crisis and long decline following Pašić’s death in late 1926, splitting into various factions even before the introduction of King Alexander’s ‘anti-party’ dictatorship in January 1929. Their collaboration with the Croat Peasants proved short-lived, lasting less than two years.

Alexander introduced dictatorship following the culmination of the political crisis in the summer of 1928. On 20 June, a Radical Party deputy shot dead two and wounded three Croat Peasant Party deputies during a particularly heated parliamentary debate. Among those wounded was Radić (whose nephew was killed in the shooting). The Croat leader initially appeared to have recovered from an operation necessary to remove the assassin’s bullets, but died on 8 August. The Croatian Peasants and their allies, predominantly Croatian Serb Independent Democrats led by Pribićević, refused to return to the Belgrade parliament and demanded federalization of the country. The veteran Slovene leader Korošec briefly headed government – Trumbić publicly condemned him for accepting the mandate to spite the Croats[8] – before Alexander dissolved the parliament, banned political parties and abolished the 1921 Constitution on 6 January 1929, the Old Style or Serbian Orthodox Christmas Eve. Vladko Maček, Radić’s successor, welcomed the abolition of the hated Constitution and expressed the hope that the king would solve the Croat question.

Trumbić joined the Croatian Peasant Party in 1928, largely as an act of solidarity after the June tragedy. At this time a Frankist deputy called Ante Pavelić also briefly joined the party. When Trumbić visited Radić in hospital, he told the wounded Croat leader that it was time for an even more radical opposition to the regime.[9] Yet, he never went as far as Pavelić, who left the country soon afterwards, to establish his extremist, separatist Ustaša organization in Italy. Disillusioned and embittered with political developments in the country he helped create, and never really comfortable with the populism of the Croatian Peasants, Trumbić was something of an ‘external’ party member and one of Maček’s chief political advisors. In late 1928, Trumbić travelled to Vienna, Paris and London to gain support for the Croat cause, but had little success.

Trumbić’s activities during this period and some of his statements were anti-Yugoslav and are sometimes interpreted as separatist. When Dragoljub Jovanović, a Serbian opposition leader, went to Zagreb in the mid-1930s to discuss cooperation between Croat and Serb opposition before forthcoming general elections, he found an angry and radicalized Trumbić. What elections?! This country needs a revolution, not elections!, he allegedly told the Serbian visitor. When Jovanović reminded him of his committed Yugoslavism during the war and the Peace Conference – he listened to Trumbić’s public lectures as a Serbian student in Paris – Trumbić claimed that it was then necessary for Croats to join Serbs, who were one of the allies, before adding, It could have all turned out well if your politicians had not ruined everything … I am not abandoning Yugoslavism, but in Belgrade … without finishing the sentence, but clearly suggesting that the regime was pushing him away from his support for Yugoslavia.[10]

Throughout his life, Trumbić was concerned with the Croat question. By the early 20th century he had come to believe that it could be solved only in a Yugoslav state, together with Serbia and the Serbs (not unlike Pašić’s realization that pan-Serb unification could only be achieved in Yugoslavia, together with Croats and Slovenes). By the late 1920s, Trumbić no longer saw Yugoslavia as the only framework for the solution of the Croat question. The Yugoslav framework was in his view increasingly unacceptable – not because Trumbić did not want it to be, but because the reality was telling him otherwise. Yet, he was not a separatist, certainly not in the mould of Pavelić.[11] If during any period of his career he could be described as a separatist, it was during his activities against Austria-Hungary, especially once the war broke out.

Trumbić was one of the main authors, in November 1932, of an opposition manifesto known as the ‘Zagreb Points’, issued by leading Croat and Croatian Serb politicians. The manifesto blamed centralism for the country’s political crisis. The only way out of the crisis was to renegotiate the terms of the union, and replace the centralist arrangement with a dualist/federal one.[12] The ‘Zagreb Points’ triggered a chain of similar opposition resolutions in Ljubljana, Sarajevo and Belgrade and led to Maček’s arrest. Maček would be released from prison only after King Alexander’s assassination in October 1934 – in the meanwhile Trumbić was de facto one of the party leaders. King Alexander’s assassination in Marseilles, while the King was on a state visit to France, was a joint Macedonian Revolutionary-Ustaša deed; French Foreign Minister Louis Barthou was killed too. A pro-Maček journal published a touching obituary of the monarch, of which Trumbić was allegedly a co-author.[13]

The Croat-Serb cooperation in opposition gathered momentum in the second half of the 1930s, with Maček, Davidović and Pribićević and his successors (the leader of the Serbs in Croatia had died in 1936) seriously challenging governments formed by Pašić’s successors, Korošec’s Slovene Populists and Bosnian Muslims. Ironically, Trumbić, who played such a crucial role during the unification of Yugoslavia and at the Paris Peace Conference, opposed the cooperation with Belgrade, even with the Serbian democratic opposition. Eventually, in August 1939 Maček reached an agreement with Prince Regent Paul and Prime Minister Dragiša Cvetković, an unremarkable younger follower of Pašić. Croatia was given self-rule, and Maček was appointed deputy prime minister of Yugoslavia. Alongside Trumbić, he was the highest-ranking Croat in interwar Yugoslav governments.  

Trumbić did not live long enough to see the establishment of an autonomous Croatia within Yugoslavia. He died the previous November, in his native Split, aged 74. His death was commemorated by three different sides: the Croatian Peasant Party, the anti-Yugoslav Frankists (close, but not necessarily identical to the Ustašas), and the government. The Croatian Peasants celebrated his life as an ally of Radić and Maček and as a Croat patriot, as did the Frankists, though they emphasized his early career as a member of Starčević’s Party of Rights. The official commemoration emphasized his Yugoslavism and praised his role in the creation of Yugoslavia. All three sides had a point – Trumbić was all that at different stages of his illustrious, but ultimately unfulfilled career.

Trumbić’s most important legacy was his role in the creation of Yugoslavia. Pašić, on the other hand, left a deeper and a more complex legacy, as one of the founders of Yugoslavia, but especially as one of the greatest Serb leaders of modern times. Pašić’s legacy is controversial – non-Serbs tend to accuse him of establishing Serb control in the Serb-Croat-Slovene state and contributing to the country’s instability, while some Serbs blame him for choosing Yugoslavia instead of a Greater Serbia (even if, in reality, there was no choice). Trumbić’s legacy is not uncontroversial, either: he helped create a state many Croats came to resent. This may be the reason why today even in Croatia Trumbić remains a relatively obscure historical figure, while Pašić is well known across former Yugoslavia.

Only 19 months after the 1939 Croat-Serb agreement, interwar Yugoslavia was invaded and dismembered by Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and their allies. The Cvetković-Maček government signed the Tripartite Pact on 25 March 1941, but was overthrown by a military coup two days later. The Yugoslav public, mostly Serb and Slovene, enthusiastically supported the rejection of the Pact. However, on 6 April the country was attacked by the Axis Powers, and eleven days later it was defeated and partitioned. An enlarged Croatia, including Bosnia-Herzegovina and most of Vojvodina, but without most of Dalmatia, which Italy at last took, was proclaimed independent, under Pavelić’s Nazi-puppet regime. A significantly reduced Serbia, with Banat, was placed under German military occupation, with a collaborationist administration installed later in the year (although its jurisdiction did not extend to Banat, where many ethnic Germans lived). Just over twenty years after Pašić and Trumbić had secured Yugoslavia’s borders and helped the country gain international recognition at Versailles, the South Slav union, like the Versailles order, was in its death throes. 

Versailles Yugoslavia?

That Yugoslavia is still sometimes labelled a ‘Versailles creation’ has less to do with poor history than with daily politics. Ever since its emergence, those contesting Yugoslavia have labelled it an unnatural creation of an artificial settlement created in Paris in 1919–20. Opponents of interwar Yugoslavia were also enemies of Versailles. Even though the country was obviously not created by the Great Powers at the Peace Conference, it may be worth comparing briefly the ‘Versailles order’ and the ‘South Slav settlement’ at the end of the First World War which resulted in the united Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.

A historian of the Versailles Treaty (who also happened to be one of the leading historians of Yugoslavia) wrote in relation to the Treaty:

The Versailles Settlement comprised elements of morality and idealism, unique in the history of peacemaking, with old-fashioned power politics. It changed the political map of Europe. In so doing, ‘Versailles’ inevitably had its beneficiaries as well as its victims. The former saw it as the fulfilment of national self-determination; the latter as a grievous Diktat. Much has been said for either case. Yet the statesmen of 1919 acted in the belief that they were the first to be governed by principles that would result in fairness for all and an enduring, stable peace.[14]

The same could be said of Yugoslavia. Its creation required elements of both morality and idealism, of political pragmatism and Realpolitik and of genuine beliefs that Yugoslavs were members of a single nation who should be united in their own state. If the Versailles Treaty had its beneficiaries and its losers, so did the Yugoslav settlement:  the clear victors at the time were the South Slavs, not only Serbs as is usually assumed, while the main losers were those large ethnic minorities that found themselves in a new, in many respects alien country: ethnic Albanians, Hungarians, Germans and Italians, as well as Macedonian Slavs, whom no one recognized as such at the time. The Yugoslavs saw Yugoslavia as the fulfillment of their long struggle for national liberation and unification, while the non-Yugoslavs saw the South Slav state as an imposition by the victors of the First World War. Just like the peacemakers, the makers of Yugoslavia acted in a belief that their actions would produce a just and a long-lasting settlement.

Losers at Versailles continued to look for a change of the borders and of the terms imposed. Yet, it was not always easy to distinguish losers from victors. Italy was nominally a victor, but felt dissatisfied with the settlement. Yugoslavs who had lived in formerly Habsburg territories were nominally losers, but found themselves on a victorious side thanks to their alliance with Serbia and the creation of the Yugoslav state. Yet, within a decade following Versailles, many of them would feel arguably as alienated from Belgrade as they did from Budapest and Vienna. In the second half of the 1930s, many Serbs, too, would begin to question their wisdom in ‘creating’ Yugoslavia.

Following the Axis destruction of the country in 1941, a complex set of ideological, ethnic, liberation and collaborationist wars broke out on the territory of the first former Yugoslavia. By 1945, some 1 million people had died, half of them Serbs; among the South Slavs, proportionally Montenegrins and Bosnian Muslims suffered even heavier casualties, and Croats suffered almost as much.[15] Yet, a Yugoslavia re-emerged, this time as a communist-governed federation. Ironically, it was the Communists, once among those calling for the break-up of ‘Versailles Yugoslavia’ as an artificial, bourgeois creation, who were arguably the only group capable of organizing an effective, multi-ethnic resistance and re-establishing a South Slav union.

To quote the historian of the Versailles Treaty again:

Was it [the Versailles Treaty] just, politically sound, economically capable of fulfillment? Was it indeed the harbinger of a new era of international morality and European stability which many of its advocates so ardently sought? Or were its provisions unduly harsh? Did it in fact sow the seeds of destruction which germinated crisis after crisis and eventually pushed Europe into the abyss of a new war? Was its breakdown caused by the passivity of the victor or by the dynamic resistance of the vanquished? Ultimately, was it foredoomed to failure?[16]

All these questions apply to Yugoslavia, and have been raised by scholars and non-scholars alike, especially since the Yugoslav federation broke up violently in the early 1990s, at the end of another international order established after a world war. Attempting to answer them would require a separate book. The founders of Yugoslavia, despite all their differences, problems and deficiencies, believed that their struggle was just, and that the new country was to be a worthy member of a new international community, based on justice and democracy.

Was Yugoslavia an artifical state, doomed to failure from the start? It was artificial in the sense that all states are to a varying degree. Yugoslavia’s creation in 1918 was supported by the South Slav political elites and there was at least some popular enthusiasm among ‘ordinary’ people. The Allies thought it was a logical project and looked at it with sympathy, even though they did not recognize the new state straight away. Yugoslavia was not their creation, but its external stability depended on the stability of the international order created in Paris in 1919–20. The ultimate failure of the Yugoslav project does not mean that it was doomed from the very start. Yugoslavia was formed and existed in arguably the most violent of centuries. That it survived through most of it, suggests it was a worthwhile project. And, who knows, it may yet return one day, in another guise, within the EU framework. Pašić and Trumbić’s work in Paris would in that case probably appear longer lasting than it seems at present.

Dejan Djokić, Goldsmiths College, University of London

Lecture presented at the Harriman Institute, Columbia University, New York, Friday 9 April 2010. The lecture is based on Djokić’s new book Pašić and Trumbić: The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, London: Haus, 2010, published as part of Makers of the Modern World: The Peace Conferences of 1919-23 and their Aftermath, series editor Alan Sharp.

Peščanik.net, 12.04.2010.

[1] Milenko Vesnić, O Društvu naroda (Belgrade: 1920) pp 13-14, 17.

[2] All citations in this paragraph are from Ljubo Boban, ‘Prilozi za političku biografiju Ante Trumbića u vrijeme šestojanuarskog režima (1929-1935)’, in Boban, Kontroverze iz povijesti Jugoslavije (Zagreb: 1989), 3 Vols, Vol 2, pp 15-87, p 28.

[3] Slobodan Jovanović, ‘Trumbić i Jugoslavija’, in Moji savremenici (Windsor, CA: 1962) p 215.

[4] Jovanović, ‘Pašić’ and ‘Pašić i Jugoslavija’, in Moji savremenici, pp 184 and 220, respectively.

[5] Alex Dragnich,Serbia, Nikola Pašić and Yugoslavia (New Brunswick, NJ: 1974) p 163.

[6] R.W. Seton-Watson, ‘Jugoslav Obituary’, Slavonic Review, Vol 19, No 53-54 (1939-40) pp 318-21, p 318.

[7] Dragoljub Jovanović, Ljudi, ljudi: Medaljoni 46 umrlih savremenika, sa fotografijama (Belgrade: 1975), Vol 2, pp 79, 82.  

[8] Ivo Petrinović, ‘Politički život i nazori Ante Trumbića’, in Trumbić, Izabrani politički spisi, Compiled and introduced by Ivo Petrinović (Zagreb: 1998) pp 9-62, p 46.

[9] Petrinović, p 46.

[10] Jovanović, Ljudi, ljudi, pp 80-81.

[11] Boban, ‘Prilozi za političku biografiju Ante Trumbića’, pp 15-6. See also Ljubo Boban, ‘Enes Milak i separatizam Ante Trumbića’, in Boban, Kontroverze, Vol 1, pp 379-80.

[12] For Trumbić’s career during this period see Boban, ‘Prilozi za političku biografiju Ante Trumbića’.

[13] Prince Paul Papers, Bakhmeteff Archive, Columbia University, New York, box 11, Report on the reaction to the assassination [of King Alexander] in Croatia, unknown author, ca. late 1934.

[14] Ivo J. Lederer, ‘Introduction’, in Lederer (ed.), The Versailles Settlement: Was it Foredoomed to Failure? Problems in European Civilization (Lexington, MA: 1960) pp vii-x, p vii.

[15] Bogoljub Kočović, Žrtve Drugog svetskog rata u Jugoslaviji (London: 1985), provides estimates of Yugoslav loses in the Second World War according to ethnicity.

[16] Lederer, ‘Introduction’, pp vii-viii.