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Policing Yugoslavism. Surveillance, Denunciations, and Ideology during King Aleksandar’s Dictatorship, 1929-1934

Written by Christian Axboe Nielsen, this article appeared on the first issue of Vol. 29 of the journal East European Politics and Society in February 2009.
From its proclamation on 6 January 1929 to the assassination of King Aleksandar on 9 October 1934, his dictatorship systematically strove to indoctrinate the diverse Yugoslav population into a rejection of their previous identities in favor of a unitary Yugoslav national identity. Through a combination of massive new legislation and zealous use of the state’s repressive organs, the regime’s agents monitored and coerced the entire population of the country. Extensive archival documentation permits a depiction of the effects of the regime on ordinary Yugoslav citizens, hitherto almost completely neglected in histories focusing on political and social elites. Ultimately, King Aleksandar’s Yugoslav project, unique in Yugoslav history, resulted more in the construction of an elaborate police state and arguably severely damaged the long-term prospects for a voluntarily held unitary Yugoslav identity.


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