In: Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung 2012. Berlin: Aufbau Verlag, pp. 381-388.
Were the ethnic clashes and – in the case of Yugoslavia – even ethnic wars after 1990 the result of long standing rivalries? Had they only been suppressed for decades by the threat of the retaliation of a well functioning police regime? Or was a charismatic leader like Tito able to persuade, temporary at least, these rivalries by his insistence on ‘fraternity and unity’? This article engages with these questions. Previous studies by Calic et.al. and Ihlau and Mayr, which focus on the Soviet case as well as Yugoslavia, give different answers. According to Calic, the disintegration of the Yugoslav federation was the result of the inability of the Yugoslav Communist and the Soviet leadership to cope with the challenges of a post-Fordist society, which ended the period of modernisation as mass (heavy) industrialization – as existed in Yugoslavia from the 1950s and the Soviet Union from the 1930s. According to Ihlau and Mayr, however, the decay of Yugoslavia was the result of long standing ethnic rivalries, which got out of control as a consequence of Tito’s death in 1980. His skilful handling of the ethnic question had not been continued by his non charismatic successors, and thus provoked the outbreak of ethnic wars.