During the war, Yugoslavia was occupied by German, Italian, Hungarian, and Bulgarian groups. The Axis powers were able to exploit the tensions between the many different ethnic groups in the region. Yet, large-scale genocide campaigns were conducted against Serbian, Jewish and Roma citizens. The head of the Croatian state, Ante Pavelic, declared: “the Jews will be liquidated in a very short time”. Indeed, the vast majority of Yugoslavia’s Jews were murdered during the war.
The Ustashe authorities quickly set up concentration camps in Yugoslavia, the largest of which was Jasenovac. Between 77,000 and 99,000 people would be killed in this camp or at the nearby killing fields at Granik and Gradina, among them Jews, Roma, Serbs, and political dissidents. Other camps were established at Danica, Stara Gradiska, Loborgrad, and Djakovo.
After Yugoslavia fell to the Nazis, two resistance movements emerged: one by the Chetniks, who were Serbian pro-monarchist partisans, and one by communist partisans, led by Josip Brosz Tito. However, the movements had irreconcilible aims, and so civil war broke out in Yugoslavia between the fascist Croatian Ustashe, the pro-monarchist Chetniks, and the communist partisans. Some Jews survived by fleeing to or fighting with Tito’s partisans. In 1945, Tito’s communists liberated Sarajevo. Read more about the civil war here.
Tito became prime minister and later long-time president of the communist Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which was founded after the war. He ruled the country until his death in 1980.
Josip Broz Tito (1892-1980) was the most defining figure of 20th century Yugoslav history. Here you can watch a documentary about Tito. In 1948, after a conflict between Tito and Stalin, Yugoslavia was expelled from the international association of socialist states, Cominform. In the following years Yugoslavia developed its own version of communism - Titoism.
Tito was a popular public figure in Yugoslavia, viewed as a unifying symbol for the Yugoslav federation. However, he is also named the architect of Yugoslavia's disintegration and remains a controversial figure.