IN OCTOBER of 1953 the Atlantic published a Special Supplement on India, the first of a series of special issues devoted to a foreign people and the culture they have evolved. Other Supplements followed in the intervening years, and it is a pleasure for me to report that those on India, Japan, Brazil, Indonesia, the Arab World, and Africa Below the Sahara are completely sold out, and the issue on Red China is almost gone — evidence of a new orientation in American reading.
This Supplement on Yugoslavia, the seventeenth in the series, like its predecessors, is not intended as a political critique; it is intended as an introduction to a talented, spirited people who form a relatively new nation, and whose writers, scholars, and artists we have encouraged to speak.
It has been said that Yugoslavia is a country with six republics of five nationalities, four languages, three religions, two alphabets, and one party. The six republics are: Serbia, which is the largest and which includes the most important minority, of 800,000 Albanians; Croatia; Slovenia; BosniaHerzegovina; Montenegro; and Macedonia. The five nationalities are: Serbs, Croats, Slovenes, Montenegrins, and Macedonians — and I might add, there was a time when they were at each other’s throats. The three religions, still active, are Serbian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Muslim. The two scripts: Cyrillic and Latin. The one party: the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, which, as they describe it, preserves more of what we call “the democratic process” than one is likely to find elsewhere in countries that draw their governmental principles from radical Marxism.
Before the war, the present Yugoslavia had few industries, vestiges of alien upper classes (Austrian, Italian, and Hungarian), and virtually no middle class. Yugoslavs finished the war having fought one another, having suffered the loss of 1.7 million people, and having had a high proportion of their buildings burned or bombarded by the Germans, Italians, the Allies, or each other. But in the war they had done one thing which no other east European people had done: under the powerful leadership of Marshal Tito, they had effected their own liberation from the Nazis, and they had done this independently, without substantial aid or direction from the Russians. It was this pride in themselves, this respect for their own country which prompted them, in 1948, to stand clear of the hegemony of the Kremlin.