History of Communism in Europe

Volume 14, 2023

Left-Wing Radical Politics and Emergency Powers in Interwar Europe

Rastko Lompar
Pages 41-63

The Emergence and Evolution of Anti-Communist Legislation in Interwar Yugoslavia

The aim of this paper is to outline the history of anticommunist legislation in interwar Yugoslavia and to bring to the fore its key phases. This approach is employed to re-examine the effectiveness of the introduced laws, to pinpoint their shortcomings, but also their strong points. Virtually from its creation, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Yugoslavia) was hostile to communism. Anticommunist convictions of the ruling elites influ­enced many aspects of governance, not only internal affairs, as the outlawing of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia in December 1920, but also foreign policy, as postponing the recognition of the Soviet Union to 1940. There are three distinct phases of anticommunist legislation, each clearly marked by a key anticommunist law. During the first phase (1918-1921), there were few legal instruments for combating left-wing radicalism. The second phase (1921-1929) was marked by the introduction of a highly controversial Law on the Protection of Public Security and State Order, which gave previous unprecedented powers to the prosecutors and police to crush the emerging communist movement. This legal framework was further expanded after the proclamation of the King`s dictatorship in 1929, and the overhaul of the Law, as well as the introduction of a special tribunal – The State Court for the Protection of the State.