Newspaper Covers

Since the late 1980s, nationalist propaganda has flooded the Yugoslav press. The media disseminated propaganda narratives to influence public opinion and support the political objectives of various conflicting parties. Regime-controlled media contributed to the further polarization of society and fostered interethnic mistrust through biased reporting, factual distortion, hate speech, and outright falsification of events. However, even in such difficult circumstances, there were many journalists and media outlets that reported objectively and impartially about the events.

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Electoral Posters

After decades of a single-party system, the first multiparty elections were conducted in Yugoslavia in 1990. These elections enabled the emergence of new political parties and leaders, as well as the introduction of new and historical symbols and slogans. Nationalistic parties and leaders emerged victorious in the elections in all three republics: the Demos coalition in Slovenia, the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) in Croatia, and the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) in Serbia. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the ethnically defined parties Serb Democratic Party (SDS), Party of Democratic Action (SDA), and Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ BIH) also won the elections.

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Intellectuals, academics, authors, and politicians were all active in spreading nationalist narratives and myths in Yugoslavia before and during the wars. These individuals participated actively in public forums and political events, wrote for the state media, produced books on their own nation’s political “destiny,” and “revealed” the “hidden and silenced truths.” There was also a surge of popular unscientific literature that focused on the ancient origins of one’s own nation, usually attributing non-Slavic origin. Many “classics” of conspiracy theories and infamous works such as antisemitic The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Mein Kampf were also published. Many prominent politicians also wrote books that interpreted their ideological positions or attested to their involvement in pivotal events.


(Mira Marković: Night and Day)

Source: “The Museum of Objects”, Kiosk (the project by Ana Adamović, James May i Milica Pekić); from the collection of the Museum of Yugoslavia

 Donor: Gojko Dobraš
Slavonia / Pensioner /

Donors’ place of residence during the 1990s: Smederevo 

Object title: Memory

Question: What does this object represent for you? 
Answer: A memory of a beautiful life.

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Pyramid Schemes

Photo: Imre Sabo

One of the ways to finance wars was the introduction of pyramid schemes in Serbia. This involved   extracting money from numerous Serbian citizens through two banks, Dafiment Bank, founded by Dafina Milanović and Jugoskandik founded by Jezdimir Vasiljević. Both banks were based on the model of promising unrealistically high-interest rates on invested money (10-15% on foreign currency and 160% on dinars). During the severe economic crises and inflation in Serbia, many people invested their savings in these banks to gain additional profits. According to the conclusions of the National Bank of Serbia’s Commission, Dafiment Bank had 163,025 depositors, while Jugoskandik had roughly 55,000 Collectively, individuals deposited a total of about 325 million euros in these institutions. Both banks declared bankruptcy after barely two years, while depositors lost their savings.

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From March 1992 to January 1994, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) experienced hyperinflation, which peaked in the second half of 1993. Excessive money production, the financing of the war, international sanctions, and political instability were the causes of hyperinflation. As a result, many businesses failed, and workers lost their jobs and wages, which further exacerbated the economic crisis. It was the second-highest inflation rate in history, surpassed only by Hungary in 1946. It had a daily rate of 64.63% (compared to Weimar Germany’s 20.89% in 1923) or 2.69% per hour. Prices were expressed in points since it was impossible to alter them multiple times a day as the value of money dwindled. The biggest banknote ever produced was 500 billion dinars (500,000,000,000). The situation progressively stabilized after the implementation of monetary reform and the replacement of the old currency with a new dinar tied to the German mark on January 1, 1994. With the adoption of a stable currency, inflation fell, and the economy began a gradual recovery.

Devalued banknotes

Source: “The Museum of Objects”, Kiosk (the project by Ana Adamović, James May i Milica Pekić); from the collection of the Museum of Yugoslavia

Donor: Dragan Mirković
1957 / Plešin/ Kraljevo / Artist /

Donors’ place of residence during the 1990s: Kraljevo 

Object title: Devalued banknotes

Place that the object relates to: Kraljevo

Question:What does this object represent for you? 
Answer: The memory of the moment when we all had a lot of money.

The memory of a lot of money.

Question:Why did you donate the object? 
Answer: I decided to donate a part of it.

Nationalist Maps

All Balkan nations have ideals of greater states, which individuals or political groups promote as ultimate national goals. Some of them are founded on the concept of historical right, which seeks to return to boundaries achieved in distant or recent past. Others are related to the space occupied by members of a particular ethnic, religious, linguistic, or national group, who should, according to this nationalist ideology, live together in one state. Since throughout history the same territories belonged to different states, and various peoples have lived together in the same space for centuries, the visions of greater states inevitably overlapped and clashed, resulting in numerous bloody conflicts and wars in the Balkans since the nineteenth century.

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