The statehood of a country is reflected in its key institutions, but also in its presentation at important places through special state symbols, such as the state flag, coat of arms and national anthem.
The changes of the state organisation in Yugoslavia over a period of nearly 80 years of co-existence of its nations affected the changes in the state symbols of Yugoslavia, which we will present chronologically, starting from their creation.
Upon the adoption of the decision on the unification in a joint state and constitution of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes on December 1, 1918, nearly at the very beginning of its existence the government of Stojan Protić adopted a decision on the determination of state symbols which represented the Yugoslav state in the next twenty years.
On December 9/22, 1918 in Belgrade, the government concluded that the state flag of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes would be a tricolor with three equal horizontal fields – blue on the top, white in the middle and red on the bottom.
Article 2 of the St Vitus's Day Constitution of 1921 confirmed the colours of the state flag of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes as blue, white and red, horizontally placed against the vertical flagpole. In addition to the state flag, there were also the tribal flags – Serbian: red, blue and white; Croatian: red, white and blue and Slovenian: white, blue and red.
After World War II, when the structure of the Yugoslav society changed after the introduction of the new state organisation, abolishment of the monarchy and declaration of the republic of Yugoslavia, the state symbols were also changed.
Under the FPRY Constitution of February 1, 1946, the state flag kept the colours of the flag of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia with the same order of colours – blue, white and red. The new revolutionary authorities, who ensured the alteration of the social system during the war, added to the centre of the flag a red five-pointed star, the symbol under which they fought against fascism in World War II. The ratio between the width and length of the flag was 1-2. The flag had three equal horizontal fields. The five-pointed star had a golden or yellow fimbriation.
The flag did not change until the secession of some Yugoslav republics in the 1990s. The flag kept the same colours, but the five-pointed star was removed from it.
Text prepared by: Dragoš Petrović
In addition to its decision on the flag, the government of Stojan Protić in Belgrade on December 9/22, 1918 also made a decision on the coat of arms. Guided by the motto that the state is represented by the people of three brotherly tribes – Serbs, Croats and Slovenes – the government accepted the principle of equality in that area and incorporated elements from the coats of arms of all three tribes in the state coat of arms. Maintaining some heraldic principles, the state coat of arms of the Kingdom consisted of a white two-headed eagle with a shield on its chest, divided into two fields. The Serbian coat of arms, made on the model of the one made by Stojan Novaković in 1882, was presented in the right-hand field. It consisted of a red cross with four firesteels in each corner of the cross on the white background. The left-hand field was occupied by the Croatian coat of arms which consisted of a checkerboard with 20 white and red fields. The lower part of the shield was occupied by the old Illyrian (Slovenian) coat of arms – an upturned white crescent on the blue background with a white five-point star between the ends of the crescent.
On the model of the Serbian coat of arms, under the St Vitus's Day Constitution of 1921, the coat of arms of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia remained basically the same as that of the Stojan Protić government from December 1918 with only slight changes. The coat of arms consisted of a two-headed white eagle on a read shield, with crowns on each of its heads. The coat of arms of all three tribes remained on the shield on the eagle's chest, with slight changes. The Serbian coat of arms consisted of a white cross on a red shield with four firesteels in each corner of the cross; Croatian shield consisted of a 25-field red and silvery checkerboard; Slovenian coat of arms had three golden six-point stars above a white crescent on a blue shield. The coat of arms was surrounded by a red ermine cloak, with the royal crown on top, like it was during the time of the Kingdom of Serbia. There were two fleurs-de-lys underneath the eagle, one under each claw. The Kingdom of Yugoslavia kept this coat of arms until World War II.
During the people's liberation war and the second session of AVNOJ in late November 1943, when the foundations of the new Yugoslav society were set, the coat of arms of Socialist Yugoslavia was created through collaboration between artists Đorđe Andrejević Kun and Antun Augustinčić, while they were decorating the room of the Jajce Home of Culture, where the session was to be held. At the decision of the AVNOJ Presidency, Augustinčić previously carved the future coat of arms in wood, with five torches representing the five Yugoslav nations as the main elements and under a previous decision, the date of the session, November 29, 1943, was included in the coat of arms. Kun sketched the wheat, to which the five torches were added. This coat of arms of new Socialist Yugoslavia was adopted after World War II. Under the FPRY Constitution, the Yugoslav coat of arms was described as the coat of arms with a field surrounded by wheat stalks tied in the bottom by a ribbon bearing the date of the Second AVNOJ Session in Jajce, November 29, 1943. A five-pointed star stood between the tops of the wheat stalks and the five torches were placed in a slanted position in the middle and their flames created a single flame.
The coats of arms of the Socialist Republics of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia and Montenegro were created nearly at the same time in 1945-1946. Under the 1963 Constitution, when the name of the state changed into the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia, the state coat of arms kept its previous appearance and the only modification was that a sixth torch was added to the five torches in the centre. The SFRY coat of arms did not change until the 1990s when the Yugoslav union disintegrated.
The attempt to preserve the Yugoslav state after the secession of some republics led to the formation of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. FR Yugoslavia was made up of two equal member-states – Republic of Serbia and Republic of Montenegro, which promulgted the Constitution on April 27, 1992. The FRY Constitution regulated the state coat of arms. Under the Law on the Coat of Arms of FR Yugoslavia of October 20, 1993, the coat of arms consisted of a red shield with a silver double-headed eagle with the golden beak and tongue, golden legs and claws. A shield with four square fields with the coats of arms of the Republic of Serbia and Republic of Montenegro placed alternatively was situated on the eagle's chest. The coat of arms of the Republic of Serbia was in the first and fourth square on a red background with a silver cross and four silver firesteels in the corners and the coat of arms of the Republic of Montenegro was in the second and third fields, with a passing lion with a golden tongue and body on a red background. This coat of arms remained the same in the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, although modifications of the flag, coat of arms and national anthem were discussed.
Text prepared by: Dragoš Petrović
After the unification in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes in December 1918, the issue was raised of the use of the national anthem on special occasions. Although a law on the national anthem did not exist, the anthems of all three South Slav tribes were unified into a single anthem of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes/Yugoslavia. The first verses to be sung were those of "O, God of Justice", then of "Our Beautiful Homeland" and then "Forward, the Flag of Glory", their first and last stanzas.
God of Justice; Thou who saved us when in deepest bondage cast, Hear Thy Serbian children's voices, Be our help as in the past. With Thy mighty hand sustain us, Still our rugged pathway trace; God, our hope; protect and cherish Serbian country and Serbian race!
Bind in closest links our kindred Teach the love that will not fail, May the loathed fiend of discord Never in our ranks prevail. Let the golden fruits of union Our young tree of freedom grace; God, our Master! guide and prosper Serbian country and Serbian race.
Lord! Avert from us Thy vengeance, Thunder of Thy dreaded ire; Bless each Serbian town and hamlet, Mountain, meadow, heart and spire. When our host goes forth to battle Death or victory to embrace- God of armies! be our leader Strengthen then the Serbian race.
On our sepulchre of ages Breaks the resurrection morn, From the slough of direst slavery Serbia anew is born. Through five hundred years of durance We have knelt before Thy face, All our kin, O, God! deliver, Thus entreats the Serbian race
Our beautiful homeland, O so fearless and gracious, Our fathers' ancient glory, May you be blessed forever.
TDear, you are our only glory, Dear, you are our only one, Dear, we love your plains, Dear, we love your mountains.
Sava, Drava, keep on flowing, Danube, do not lose your vigor, Deep blue sea, tell the world, That a Croat loves his homeland.
Whilst his fields are kissed by sunshine, Whilst his oaks are whipped by wild winds, Whilst his dear ones go to heaven, Whilst his live heart beats.
Forward, the flag of glory, To battle, heroes' blood! For our fatherland's sake Let the rifles sound.
With weapons on our right We bring the devil wrath. To write in blood the justice Demanded by our land.
Forward!, the flag of glory, To battle, heroes' blood! For our fatherland's sake Let the rifles sound. Forward! Forward!
All three anthems were created in the 19th century, during the period of Romantism and National Renaissance.
The first was the Croatian song "Our Beautiful Homeland", written by Antun Mihanović (1796–1861), consul and author. It was published in Ljudevit Gaj's newspaper Danica in 1835, and Josif Runjanin (1821–1878), a Serb from Vinkovci, an officer and musician composed the music to the text in 1846. It was only during the 1891 exhibition of the Croatian-Slavonian business society in Zagreb, where ceremonious songs were played, that the audience liked "Our Beautiful Homeland" the best and in the following years it was sung at all major celebrations and holidays in Croatia, thus becoming the national anthem.
At the time of the National Renaissance in the Habsburg monarchy and the fall of the Metternich regime, Martin Davorin Jenko (1835–1914), and his rebellious compatriat, poet Simon, composed music for the poem "Forward, the Flag of Glory!" in Vienna in 1860 and it was quickly accepted by the Slovenian people and became the national anthem..
Although "O, God of Justice", as a patriotic song, was the last of all three national anthems to be created, it became the first national and state anthem when Serbia was declared a kingdom in February 1882. Ten years before, at the celebration of the 18th birthday of Prince Milan Obrenović and his taking of the throne of Serbia, on August 10, 1872, the musical Markova Sablja (Marko's Sword) was played. "O, God of Justice" was played within the play. The text was written by author, dramatist and Manager of the Serbian National Theatre in Novi Sad and National Theatre in Belgrade Jovan Đorđević. The music was composed by Davorin Jenko, a Slovene who lived and worked in Serbia in the second half of the 19th century. Prince Milan and the rest of the audience liked it and it was used when the Principality of Serbia was declared the Kingdom of Serbia and when Prince Milan became king in February 1882. Since then, "O, God of Justice" was played at celebrations and holidays as the official national anthem of Serbia. With minor changes, the anthem survived numerous changes of dynasties and in the Serbian society and today is the anthem of the Republic of Serbia.
The original version goes as follows:
God of Justice; Thou who saved us when in deepest bondage cast, Hear Thy Serbian children's voices, Be our help as in the past!
With Thy mighty hand sustain us, Still our rugged pathway trace; God, our hope; protect and cherish Serbian country and Serbian race!
Složi srpsku braću dragu Na svak dičan, slavni rad: Sloga biće poraz vragu, A najjači Srpstvu grad!
Bind in closest links our kindred Teach the love that will not fail, May the loathed fiend of discord Never in our ranks prevail! Let the golden fruits of union Our young tree of freedom grace; God, our Master! guide and prosper Serbian country and Serbian race!
Lord! Avert from us Thy vengeance, Thunder of Thy dreaded ire; Bless each Serbian town and hamlet, Mountain, meadow, heart and spire!
When our host goes forth to battle Death or victory to embrace- God of armies! be our leader Save the King and the Serbian race!
On our sepulchre of ages Breaks the resurrection morn, From the slough of direst slavery Serbia anew is born!
Through five hundred years of durance We have knelt before Thy face, All our kin, O, God! deliver, Thus entreats the Serbian race.
When the Kingdom of Yugoslavia disappeared in the April 1941 war, the modified national Serbian-Croat-Slovenian anthem also disappeared from the stage of history. Amid World War II and creation of the new Democratic Federative Yugoslavia, with the proclaimed equality of South Slav peoples "hey slavs" became the temporary anthem.
The text for "Hey Slavs" was written by Slovak Samuel-Samo Tomašik in Prague in 1834, during the pan-Slavic movement. He gave it the title "Hey, Slovaks" and wrote the instruction that it should be sung to the melody of the Polish song "Jeszczе Polska Nie Zginela". Later, he changed its title and dedicated it to all Slavs. Tomašik’s poem spread quickly and became the anthem of the national call for unity in all Slav countries. The text underwent numerous transformations in most Slav peoples. It was sung as the anthem at the pan-Slavic congress in Prague in 1848, where delegate Vatroslav Lisinski declared himself as the first Yugoslav.
The poem from the South Slav region was first accepted by Slovenes in 1848 and they sung it as "Hey, Slovenians". It was published in the Yugoslav press when the joint state was created in 1918 and it was most intensively used as the Yugoslav anthem from the period of the people's liberation war in 1941-1945 to the breakup of Yugoslavia.
The old pan-Slavic anthem "hey slavs" was reborn when it was played at the opening of the First AVNOJ Session in Bihać on November 26, 1942, at the Second AVNOJ Session in Jajce on November 29/30, 1943, when Tito came to Vis. In the recently liberated country, at the Constitutional Assembly on November 29, 1945, when Yugoslavia became a republic, it was played at the key point and all national deputies got up and started to sing this anthem. "hey slavs" was thus accepted as the temporary anthem.
Hey Slavs! Our grandfather' word still lives, As long as their sons' heart beats for the people. It lives, the spirit of Slavs lives, it will live for centuries, The abyss of hell threatens in vain, the fire of thunder is in vain.
Now let everything above us be carried away by the bura. The rock cracks, the oak breaks, let the ground shake. We stand steadfastly like cliffs; Let the traitor of his homeland be damned!
Due to the shortcomings in the poem "hey slavs", a competition for the text of the new Yugoslav anthem was called in early 1946. However, the competition failed because the poem the Anthem of FPRY by Čedomir Minderović could not be matched with the music composed by well-known Yugoslav composers. Another attempt to make a Yugoslav anthem was made in 1959 when Mira Alečković and Nikola Hercigonja joined forces. The Formal Song, best known by the first verse of the chorus "Yugoslavia, you were born in battle" was based on his 1948 song entitled "To New Yugoslavia". On April 18, 1959 it was played at the celebration of the 40th anniversary of Yugoslavia. It looked as if the right anthem was found, so a motion was made to the Federal Committee of the SSRNJ for it to become the national anthem. Although not publicly, representatives of the Croatian leadership from the 1960s assessed it as too unitary (the name Yugoslavia is mentioned four times, there is constant insistence on its strengthening, it smells of imperialism, etc.). Poet Mira Alečković refused to change the chorus and so "hey slavs" remained the Yugoslav anthem.
At the initiative of Edvard Kardelj, Aleksandar Obradović adjusted the second movement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony for becoming the Yugoslav anthem and it was played in Belgrade on Republic Day in 1963, but this attempt was not accepted either. The third and the fourth competitions followed in 1968 and 1973/74, where the melody of the Formal Song by Macedonian composer Taki Hrisik was accepted, but the appropriate lyrics were not found, which is why these competitions also failed. When the last attempt to get a new anthem was made, the adopted anthem was supposed to be played in Belgrade at the 40th anniversary of Socialist Yugoslavia, on November 29, 1985. However, no decision was made on the anthem at this competition, like at all previous ones.
This is how the anthem "hey slavs" survived as the temporary anthem since 1945. The Constitution of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia of January 21, 1974 mentioned the anthem in Article 6 for the first time, but did not mention its title. The Law on the Use of the Coat of Arms, Flag and Anthem of the SFRY of April 22, 1977 formally regulated the status of the anthem "hey slavs", when it was officially stated that it should be temporarily used by the time that the SFRY Assembly accepts the new anthem. Under the 9th Amendment to the 1974 Constitution adopted in 1988, the anthem "hey slavs" was declared the official national anthem of SFR Yugoslavia. It reappears in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on April 27, 1992, after the secession of Yugoslav republics. It remained the national anthem by inertia until the declaration of the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia.
Text prepared by: Dragoš Petrović