Genocide in Bosnia

History of Bosnia

History of Bosnia
Ethnicity of Bosnia
Religion in Bosnia
Bosnia under Tito
Death of Tito: 1980
Bosnian War: 1992-1995
Srebrenica 1995: Ethnic Cleansing
Bosnia Today: Could Genocide Happen Again?
Links to Genocide in Bosnia

     Throughout the past seven hundred years Bosnia-Herzegovina has been ruled by many different empires who have conquered the Balkan Peninsula.  Prior to the invasion of the the Ottoman Turks Bosnia was ruled off and on by the Croats, Serbs, Romans and the the Byzantines.

     Each of these groups influenced the people of Bosnia in what type of religion Bosnians should practice.  The Romans and Croats created Catholic monasteries and churches throughout Bosnia.  The Serbs and the Byzantines created Orthodox temples along the countryside. 
     In order to understand the Bosnian people you must realize there is no true Bosnian ethnicity.  From its existence Bosnia has been a land where invaders have moved in and claimed this land as their own.  Bosnia has been heavily influenced by Serbs, Croats, Romans, Byzantines, Germans, Hungarians, etc.  It is land of multiple ethnicity's.  
     From 620 A.D. to 1180 A.D.  the leaders of Bosnia chose to aligned themselves closer with Croats than with Serbs.  The leaders of Bosnia took the title of Ban  instead of Grand Zupan, which was the title Serb leaders took.  Also the majority of the population was Catholic at this time instead of Orthodox.  Serbs moved into Bosnia, but were a minority compared to the number of Croats living in Bosnia.  Yet, they did convert many people people living in Bosnia into becoming Orthodox Christians. 
     The only conclusion that we can make about the people of Bosnia during the Middle Ages  (1000 A.D. to 1400 A.D.) was that they were Slavic in origin  and their ethnic make up was mixed with Serb blood and Croat blood. Between the fourteenth century and the the 20th century Bosnia would be ruled by two invading empires and would become part of a newly formed independent Yugoslavia in the 20th century. 
      The introduction of Islam to Bosnia by the Ottoman Turks would create a new culture in Bosnia.  Croats and Serbs living in Bosnia who converted to Islam would be identified as Bosniaks or Bosnian Muslims.  To the Serbs those who converted to Islam  would be known as traitors to the Slaivc race since Serbia was an Orthodox Christian country.

Ottoman Empire (1463 1878 A.D.)


The Ottoman Empire ruled Bosnia from 1463 A.D. until 1878 A.D.  It was during this time that a third ethnic identity was established in Bosnia-Herzegovina.  Serbs and Croats who were living in Bosnia converted to Islam in great numbers to the point that they were the majority of the population living in Bosnia.  The Bosnian Muslims did not consider themselves Croats or Serbs.  Even though they were ethnically related to Croats and Serbs they were not considered Slavic because there culture and religion was different.  This would create tensions between Bosnian Serbs and Bosnia Muslims that would five hundred years later be one of the reasons for the Bosnian Genocide.


Ottoman Rule in Bosnia

Austrian Hungarian Empire (1878 A.D.-1918 A.D.)

From 1878 A.D. to 1918 A.D. Austria-Hungary ruled Bosnia.  Bosnia was given to Austria Hungary after Russia defeated the Ottoman Empire in the Russo-Turkish War.  Serbia thought that Russia was going to give Bosnia to them, but Great Britain and France felt threatened that Russia would gain to much influence in Europe if that were to happen.  Serbian nationalism was at its peak during this time and many Bosnian Serbs wanted to become part of Serbia since there was a large Bosnian Serb population in Bosnia.  On June 28, 1914 Gavrilo Princip a Bosnian Serb who wanted Bosnia to unite under Serbian rule shot and killed Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo.  Shortly thereafter Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia claiming the Serbian government was behind the assassination.  Each nation formed allies with other European powers and World War I began.  By 1918 Austria Hungary was defeated and its empire collapsed.  Bosnia became part of a newly formed united South Slavic state called Yugoslavia.


Bosnia under Austrian Hungarian Rule

Yugoslavia: 1918 A.D. to Present (Serbia & Montenegro)

Bosnia and Yugoslavia

     The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes was created in 1918.  Bosnia-Herzegovina became part of this newly formed kingdom, yet they were not recognized in the official name of the country.  In 1929 after political unrest the country was renamed Yugoslavia in order to unite all the Slavic people in the Balkans.  The hatred between Serbs and Croats intensified as each group fought for control of the country.  During World War II a Civil War for control of Yugoslavia took place between the Croatian Ustashe and the Serbian Cetniks. 

      Each group committed war crimes against each other.  A third group led by a Slovenian Croat named Josip Tito fought both the Ustashe and the Cetniks for total control of Yugoslavia.  Tito's Partisians won the war and he established a communist Yugoslavia that would recognized six republics within its borders.  Tito held tight control over Yugoslavia.  He knew any sign of weakness would unravel the nation into another civil war.  Tito made sure that Belgrade, Serbia would be the capital and the army would be made up of mostly Serbian military leaders.  The economic sector of Yugoslavia would be located in Croatia and Slovenia.  During Tito reign as dictator of Yugoslavia he cut ties with the Soviet Union and made economic alliances with European nations and the United States.  Tito however had a difficult time keeping Bosnian Muslim activist under control.  Muslims won many rights and developed an ethnic and political presence under Tito. 

     By recongnizing Bosnian Muslims as an ethnic minority Tito intensified the hatred Serbs had for Bosnian Muslims.  Serbs thought it was a slap in the face to them and disrespectful to give political rights to those who betrayed the Slavic race by converting to Islam.  Tito died in 1980 and Yugoslavia had new leaders on yearly basis.  All six republics tried to gain more and more control of economic and political control of Yugoslavia.  Unfair treatment of Bosnian Muslims in Yugoslavia continued to grow because Serbian nationalism was growing stronger throughout Bosnia and Serbia.

     By 1991 Yugoslavia split apart.  Croatia, Slovenia, and Macedonia announced that they were independent.  War broke out between Croatia and what was left of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro).  In 1992 Bosnia announced their independence.  Bosnian Serbs became enraged and aligned themselves with Serbia.  From 1992-1995 the Bosnian War was fought by Croats, Bosnian Muslims, Bosnian Serbs, and Serbs.  Tito's dream of an united South Slavic land was no more.