When did Serbs and Croats start hating eachother? Has it been a forever thing, or just since?
WW2 and the 90s and stuff?
- 1 decade agoFavourite answer
Tensions/hatreds are much more recent than you might have thought, only about ~120 years, but much more intensely after WWI and WWII.
Serbs and Croats were initially friendly to each other and the Serb and Croat royalty intermarried. Initially, Croats were Catholic and Serbs were divided between Catholics and Orthodox. Orthodoxy was affirmed by Rastko, son the Serbian king, who is also known as St. Sava. Rastko chose to accept Byzantine rather than Roman Christianity and gradually Catholic Serbs switched to Orthodoxy. Serb Catholicism held out longest in Montenegro and southern Bosnia and Dalmatia (e.g. Pag, Dubrovnik, etc.), probably due to Venetian influence. Gradually the Montengrin Serbs became almost entirely Orthodox and the Catholic Serbs in the Dalmatian coast (still under Italian influence) came to consider themselves Croats.
However, religion was not the cause of the initial dislikes: the two main causes were the different treatment of Serbs and Croats in the Austro-Hungarian empire and the Croatian aspirations for independence. Orthodox Serbs in what is today Croatia started coming into the territory mostly in the 16th century. They were refugees from the Turks/Muslims/Albanians from Kosovo/Raska/Bosnia. Having fled to this border region between the Ottoman and Austrian empires, Austria agreed to let them own land if they provided military service and defended the border. The Serbs agree and became soldiers and officers in the Austrian army in a long crescent-shaped border that stretches from the Adriatic, along the western and northern edges of Bosnia into northern Serbia and even Romania. This border region became known as the Militargrenze in German or the Krajina in Serbian. Krajina people were mixed, including Serbs, Croats, Germans, Hungarians, and Romanians, but in the territory of what is modern Croatia, it was predominantly or even overwhelmingly Serb.
Croats outside of Krajina (and the majority of Croats in modern Croatian territory), however, were not given the privileges of the Krajina people. They were serfs of the Hungarian lords, as they had been since around 1000 A.D. They did not own their own land as did the Krajina people. I think this is the first reason why Croats started hating Serbs.
Secondly, Krajina Serbs were generally loyal to the Austrian empire and were greatful for being given refuge from the Turks. Croats in the 1800s became restive against the Hungarians and wished to found a Croatian nation state but Serbs were not interested. Croats generally refused to recognize the existence of a very large Serb minority in Croatia, instead trying to assimilate them as "Orthodox Croats" - something the Serbs definitely resisted. This was a second source of, primarily political, hatred. Ante Starcevic, father of the Croatian nation, who lived in the late 1800s, had a deep hatred of Serbs and his statements are viciously racist and verge on exterminationistic.
During WWI, some Croats were loyal to the Austrian empire whereas others wanted independence. The great powers, however weren't likely to give Croatia independence because they had not ruled themselves since 1000 A.D., when Hungary took power. Additionally, Croatia had generally supported Austria in the empire's war against Serbia in WWI, making it a more Central, rathern than Allied oriented country. Instead, Croatia and Slovenia were incorporated into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes under the Serbian king. He was a generally fair ruler but his later successor, the last king, was a dictator. However, the Serbian monarchy was not biased against Croats or Slovenes. It is very likely that if Serbia had not taken in Croatia and Slovenia into the unified kingdom, that these two republics would have remained part of Austria or Hungary, as they had been for almost 1000 years.
Before WWII, Croatian independence movements evolved into the Ustashe movement - a fascist type movement that proclaimed racial and religious superiority over non-Croats in Croatia. The Ustashe were terrorists even before WWII, and assassinated the Yugoslav king in Marseille. In 1941, Germany invaded Yugoslavia on multiple fronts. Slovenia and Croatia warmly welcomed the Germans, meeting them in their finest clothes, and throwing candies and flowers on the invading tanks. Serbia went to war with Germany and Belgrade was bombed on April 6, 1941, when thousands of people were killed.
After Serbia was destroyed, a puppet government was installed. In Croatia, the Ustashe were installed into power, and they started a campaign of genocidal ferocity against Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies in Croatia, Bosnia, and northern Serbia, that even shocked the Germans (not to mention the milder Italians). Jews were generally deported in the German manner, and sent off to Auschwitz or Croatian camps. Serbs were either massacred where they lived in the most gruesome manner (castration, sawing off breasts, decapitation, throat slitting, cutting open the wombs of pregnant women, people thrown alive into limestone caverns and pits, drownings, mutilation (gouging of eyes, etc.)) or sent off to Croatian death camps. Croatia set up 27 death camps, most of which were small concentration camps or transit camps, and a few of which were places of mass death, such as the notorious Jasenovac and Stara Gradiska camps. In Jasenovac and Stara Gradiska, German WWII officials and later Jewish groups such as the Wiesenthal center, estimated that 600,000-750,000 people were exterminated, of which about 30,000 were Gypsies and 30,000 Jews. The vast majority were Orthodox Serbs. The number of Serb civilians massacred in Croatia and Bosnia during WWII by the Ustashe and their collaborators is in the high 100,000s, possibly close to 1,000,000.
The Ustashe were closely aligned and integrated with both the Catholic church and the Muslims of Bosnia. Catholic priests and nuns took part in massacres and forced conversions. Many massacres took place in Orthodox churches, in which Catholic priests and even nuns (when children were being slaughtered) "baptized" the "schismatic" (a derogatory term for Orthodox) Serbs by slitting their throats, smashing their skulls open, or burning them alive. The chief of Jasenovac was a Catholic priest, Miroslav Filipovic-Majstorovic. The Archbishop of Croatia, Aloysius Stepinac, welcomed the Ustashe and Germans in Zagreb Cathedral and did nothing to stop the extermination and forced conversion of non-Catholics. Pope Pius XII was well aware of the genocide. Muslims took part in the massacres also, setting up two SS (Nazi) divisions, the SS Handzar and the SS Kama. The hatred against the Serbs was passionate and pathological, even greater than against the Jews and Gypsies. Serbs were perceived as a people who had betrayed the truth (Catholic) faith, as renegade "Croats" who would not assimilate and consider themselves true Catholic Croats or at least Orthodox Croats, as people who stood in the way of Croatian independence and statehood.
After WWII, the victorious communists portrayed all sides in Yugoslavia as equally guilty in murderous nationalism. The fact of the matter is that the two main Serbian resistance movements, the royalist Chetniks and the communist Partisans, did perpetrate sporadic atrocities against civilians, but usually these were against ideological opponents, e.g. Partisans massacring the families of Chetniks or Chetniks massacring Partisan or Ustashe families. Nothing on the Serb/Macedonian/Slovene side came close to the genocidal extermination perpetrated by the Croat Ustashe and their Bosnian Muslim collaborators. The communists portrayed all as equally guilty and stamped out all discussion of WWII. Jasenovac was turned into a glorified museum with a "stone flower" monument - hardly befitting an extermination camp. The death pits/caverns where countless Serb civilians were hurled were filled with cement to seal the bones away from public view. And school books never mentioned those events. However, Serbs, Croats, and Muslims (but also other ethnic groups) ALL talked about the legacy of WWII, privately at home. Grandparents told grandchildren about atrocities they had survived and seen with their own eyes or escaped, so that Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia were terrified of being ruled by either Croats or Muslims, which brings us to 1990s.
The 1990s war is a whole other story for another forum, but I just wanted to let you know that heavy Croatian dislike of Serbs began around the turn of the 20th century when Croats were trying to achieve independence from Austria-Hungary, but full blown anti-Serbian hatred was brewing in the 1920s and 1930s. In WWII there was the genocide, and only then did the Serbs start really hating the Croats, to the point of wanting to kill them in revenge or at least wanting to have nothing to do with an independent Croatia in 1991.
- Anonymous5 years ago
I agree with lilly and goxy. They took the words right out of my mouth. ***but just to add.......I think there is way more animosity by Croats towards Serbs than the other way around. Croats are doing everything to try to change the language to make it more their own. I remember the calendar months sound completely different now. They try to use different slang too and sometimes will refuse to service Serbs. Just a few years ago they let Serbs come in the country without a visa. Serbia never had Croats apply for a visa. We don't take it too seriously though. It's actually kind of funny that how they are working so hard to differentiate between us. We are not doing anything like this.
- MichaelLv 45 years ago
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Because Serbs are the piedmont people in the south Slavs group of peoples, and it's natural to hate the strongest, it's known as the inferiority complex of the weaker. The religion the Croats converted to, Catholicism, is aggressive and exclusive - they'd rather see a dead Serb than an Orthodox one. We've had different rulers throughout history, resulting in different mentalities. Yes, we are very similar, but also very different. The major difference between the two is that the Croats are breeding more hatred with every generation, unlike the Serbs. Their whole existence is based on denial of everything Serbian, while the Serbs live their lives regardless of that and anything else, for that matter. What 'lilly' is referring to is known in psychology as the "narcissism of small differences", a term defined by Sigmund Freud to describe the manner in which our negative feelings are sometimes directed at people who resemble us, while we take pride from the "small differences" that distinguish us from them. (The term appeared in "Civilization and Its Discontents" in relation to the application of the inborn aggression in man in ethnic conflict). This is the cause of all our hatred towards one another in this unfortunate region. We're so much alike and external conditions (religion, different rulers in the past, etc.) have made us so much different that we not only grew apart, but developed inhuman hatred for the other. But one of the reasons people cling to their hate so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.
- John BLv 71 decade ago
Two influences here ... one, the Turks controlled the Serbs after 1453 or shortly thereafter while the Croats were fairly independent. And there is the religious issues: The Serbs are Orthodox (after the 12th century and St. Sava) and were aligned with Byzantium, while the Coats were Roman Catholic and aligned with Rome. It may seem like a little issue, but culturally they were far apart. Plus, they were neighbors, and often neighbors are rivals.
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- Anonymous5 years ago
Hatred started when serbs tried to asimilate Croats.All up to 19 century there was thousands of orthodox Croats but they were all assimilated into serbs by serbian orthodox church supported by hungarians.After the assimilated all orthodox Croats into serbs they tried to do the same thinks even with catholic ones.Funny think, founder of first serbian state was Croat Stefan Nemanja.Medival serbs were Croatian tribe, but since they were occupied by turks and Croats being occupied by Germans they were for centuries divided between each other.After turkes were expelled from balkan Croats started to giving resistance toward austro-hungarian empire and tried to gain freedom so hungarians used orthodox Croats as a way of instability among Croats so that they fight each orther rather than them.They started to suport serbian orthodox church in forceful assimilations of orthodox Croats by which they would make serbs out of them and they succeeded in that.After ww1, when austrou hungari was defeated Croats become part of SHS kingdom (kingdom of slovenes, croats and serbs).But then in Croatia there was large number of serbs and they were manipulated by serbs from serbia to start giving resistance toward Croatian country and their Croatian indentity.Finally war broke between Croats and serbs because Croats decided that they would not let that some long forgoten Croatian tribe asimilate them into nation that was for thousands of years younger than Croats and the rest i think you know
- Opera PhantomLv 51 decade ago
Well Croats were steadily taught by Pope and the Vatican to hate Serbs because they are Orthodox,not Catholic as the Croats are.So,when WW2 begun,Croats were eager to stand with Germans against the Serbs (in Jasenovac concentration camp alone 750 000 Serbs were slaughtered and thrown into acid,and Croats had many more concentration camps).They always wanted to cleanse Croatia of Serbs because they are different in Religion,so they finally made it after ww2 and operation "Storm" in 1995.
- boojumukLv 61 decade ago
People often try to hide their history and cry persecution. The Muslims in this part of the world actively sided with the Nazis during WW2. They formed pro Nazi militias, under German guidance, and supressed and victimised other ethnic groups in the Balkan states. There was already historical enmity between different ethnic groups here, but remember this was within living memory, and as soon as Tito no longer had the lid on things, retribution followed.
There was a similar situation in Romania. Romanians bewail the terrible persecution that they suffered under the Russian backed communist regime after WW2, happily forgetting that Romania sided with Germany and actually sent regiments to the eastern front to fight on the side of the Nazis. Twenty million dead russians forments a lot of hatred.
- 7 years ago
The earliest signs of animosity between Serbs & Croats took place under Austro-Hungarian provocation during the reign of the Habsburgs. Both Austrian & Hungarian authorities in Croatia & Bosnia would often play the Serbs & Croats against each other to suit a wider Austro-Hungarian political agenda of keeping the Serbs & Croats weak & dis unified.
- sudonym xLv 61 decade ago
The majority of the Serbian and Croatian people don't hate each other.
- Anonymous1 decade ago
Since they adopted different religions, they started fighting each other. Religion always leads to bloodshed.