The acts of mass violence committed on Yugoslav territory between 1941 and 1945 are dealt with in a Yugoslav context, not in that of each of the countries making up Yugoslavia. While the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was dismantled in April 1941, it has to be said that the country did not collapse from within and that important political and military actors continued to act with a view to restoring Yugoslavia. This is true of the Yugoslav Army in the Fatherland (or movement of the četnici), led by General Dragoljub Mihailović and supported by the Yugoslav government in exile, but also of the movement of the communist partisans (partizani), who, while fighting the occupiers, wanted to take power in a reshaped Yugoslav state. The Second World War only affected Yugoslavia from April 1941 onwards. In fact, Hitler’s Germany had no particular designs on this state. It was only following a putsch on 27 March 1941, resulting in the overthrow of the Yugoslav government which had adhered to the Tripartite Pact two days earlier, that Germany, supported by its Italian, Hungarian and Bulgarian allies, decided to invade the country.
This chronological index is not exhaustive. Rather than cataloguing the totality of atrocities committed during the Second World War – which would be a tedious and rather indigestible undertaking – the aim here is to reflect the violence committed by each of the parties involved (occupiers and internal agents) by selecting the most relevant instances. The regions treated are mainly Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The mass violence perpetrated on the territory of Yugoslavia between 1941 and 1945 is still the subject of lively polemics, especially as regards the total number of victims. The official figures established by the Yugoslav authorities after 1945, fixing the number of victims at 1.7 million people, were challenged in the second half of the 1980s by independent researchers (Bogoljub Kočović and Vladimir Žerjavić), who estimated the total number of war casualties at around one million.