Austrian Rule

Bosnia 1918-1929

Among the territories which were to merge with the Kingdom of Serbia on December 1st 1918 to form the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, Bosnia & Herzegovina had a peculiar structure and tradition; it had been under Ottoman administration from 1463 to 1878, under Austrian administration from 1878 to 1918. By 1914 the country had the lowest literacy rate in Austria-Hungary, was politically and economically backward; it lacked democratic institutions such as a Bosnian-Herzegovinian parliament.
While the Ottoman millet structure no longer was in force, the religious communities enjoyed a certain degree of autonomy throughout the period of Austrian rule. When the question of Bosnia-Herzegovina determining her own fate arose in 1918, political organizations largely formed along religious lines.
Croat patriots dreamt of the establishment of a Croat political entity, which would include part or all of Herzegovina; the same was the fact in case of Serb patriots dreaming of a larger Serbia; Bosnian Muslim leaders, in 1917, suggested an autonomous Bosnia-Herzegovina within the framework of the Kingdom of Hungary. When Hungary's prime minister Istvan Tisza visited Sarajevo in September 1918, he was told by Bosnian politicians, Croat as well as Serb, that they desired Bosnia-Herzegovina to be included in a future Yugoslav state (Malcolm p.161).

The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was a unitary constitutional monarchy. Bosnia-Herzegovina did not enjoy political autonomy; the country was partitioned into 6 oblasts. Bosnia & Herzegovina sent 63 representatives to the 416 member Skupstina (assembly) in Belgrade. Unlike Croatia, which was strongly represented by the Croat Peasant Party, the votes in Bosnia-Herzegovina were divided over a multitude of political parties, largely reflecting the various religious communities.
Bosnia-Herzegovina was adversely affected by the exchange rate applied when the SHS Dinar was introduced in 1920; the liberation of serfs in Bosnia-Herzegovina by decree in 1919 affected their owners; while all of SHS suffered from the legacy of World War I, Bosnia & Herzegovina was, within SHS, both backward and at a disadvantage compared to core Serbia.
During the 1920es, in the conflict between pro-centralist Serb and pro-federal Croat positions, many a Bosnian and Herzegovinian identified themselves as Muslim Croat or Muslim Serb, thus taking sides.

History of Bosnia-Hercegovina, by Andreas Riedlmayer, from Bosnian Embassy
Sarajevo over the centuries, from the Bosnia Page
Links to Bosnian history, from Caltech
REFERENCE Noel Malcolm, Bosnia, A Short History, NY UP (1994) 1996 [G]
Fred Singleton, A Short History of the Yugoslav Peoples, Cambridge University Press (1985) 1999
H.J. Kornrumpf, Scheriat und Christlicher Staat. Die Muslime in Bosnien und in den europäischen Nachfolgestaaten des Osmanischen Reiches (1984) (Sharia and Christian State. The Muslims in Bosnia and in the Eurpean Successor States of the Ottoman Empire), in : Analecta Isisiana LV, Istanbul : Isis 2001, pp.95-112, in German [G]
Article : Bosnia and Herzegovina, in : New International Year Book 1919 p.105, 1920 p.92, 1921 p.91, 1923 p.95, 1925 p.96, 1928 p.101-102 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on March 18th 2007

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