As I reviewed media coverage of Republic Day in Yugoslavia’s successor countries, I saw parallels with Slovakia in how different generations remember the former country. (I did similar research in my country while writing a novel that takes place in socialist Czechoslovakia in the 1980’s).

  • People over 55, those born during WWII and shortly after, who lived their childhood and middle age before 1989, remember the good times with fondness, comparing it to the current situation.
  • Middle-aged people, children of the previous generation, who were born in the latter part of the 1970’s and the 1980’s and who remember their childhood and youth spent in Yugoslavia, are now in an age when they face the final half of their lives and are remembering the old times with a more rational nostalgia, critical of the negatives and appreciating the positives.
  • Gen Y and Millennials, who were born in the late 1980’s and after Yugoslavia fell apart, clearly can’t remember much or anything at all. For them those times are a curiosity and acts of remembrance manifest as appreciation for all things retro.

Further reading: Monika Palmberger. How Generations Remember: Conflicting Histories and Shared Memories in Post-War Bosnia and Herzegovina. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2016 [PDF]

A whole another host of issues arises when trying to tease out how much of the memories and nostalgia is for Yugoslavia and what parts are about socialism. As in Czechoslovakia, the two are closely intertwined, as the respective countries’ post-WWII existence overlapped with state socialism and dissolution with the end of the Communist Party-led regimes.

Featured photo by Mitchell Joyce.