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Ghosts of the past

Arzobispo Católico Stepinac con Nazis de Ustashi
The brutal Ustashe regime in wartime Croatia was closely allied with
Nazi Germany. Photo: Source unknown

In the early 1990s, freshly united Germany became entwined in the Yugoslavia crisis early on. As Yugoslavia collapsed, the German government openly sided with the independence-minded Croats and Slovenes who recoiled from the bullying tactics of Serbia's strongman, Slobodan Milosevic, and moved to separate themselves from a Serb-dominated Yugoslavia. As Paul Hockenos notes, Germany's move aroused distrust on several fronts:

The German government's highly controversial decision in 1991 to recognize Croatian statehood in advance of its European counterparts couldn't have looked worse for Bonn. Germany's dilemma was that any move that it made on its own in the Balkans was bound to be contentious, politically loaded in extremis since Nazi Germany had, on the one hand, occupied Serbia and, on the other, set up an exceptionally brutal quisling regime in Croatia. For some on the German left – and Germany-skeptics elsewhere – the conservatives' Balkan policy looked like their worst nightmare come true: a resurgent, belligerent greater Germany acting unilaterally in Europe and reconnecting to its World War II allies. This wasn't the case (Bonn's decision was a well-intentioned, poorly timed gaffe) but it was a conclusion that some minds came to.

[pp. 232-233]

Joschka Fischer and the Making of the Berlin Republic. 2007. [Oxford University Press]

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