Massstricht Treaty

The Treaty on the European Union (Maastricht Treaty), which established the European Union, was signed by twelve member states on February 7, 1992, in Maastricht, Netherlands. It became effective on November 1, 1993. With the signing of the Treaty of Maastricht, the member states committed to constructing a union with a common market, a common currency – the euro, and a common foreign and security policy. In addition, after the introduction of European citizenship, citizens of member states can now travel and work freely within the EU and vote in local and European elections. Currently, the European Union comprises 27 members whereas eight states have an EU candidate status. In 2020, the United Kingdom, one of the signatories of the Maastricht Treaty, left the European Union.

The photograph depicts the original Maastricht Treaty bearing the signatures of the 12 member states’ highest representatives. Scan the QR code to learn more about the Treaty of Maastricht and how it transformed Europe.

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The Romanian Flag with a Hole

On December 16, 1989, the first demonstrations against Nicolae Ceausescu’s regime began in Timisoara and quickly spread to other cities in Romania. Citizens were seen bringing to the protests Romanian flags with the coat of arms of the Socialist Republic of Romania ripped out. Thus, the “flag with a hole” (drapelul cu gaură) rapidly became a symbol of the revolution. In contrast to the largely peaceful transitions in other socialist countries in 1989, Romania experienced a violent regime change. On 22 December, in front of a throng of protestors, Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena, escaped on a military helicopter from the headquarters of the Romanian Communist Party. On December 25, 1989, the army arrested the couple and sentenced them to death by firing squad. The sentence was carried out the same day. The violence, however, continued until the end of 1989. Estimated 1,100 people died and 3,300 were wounded in clashes.

Titanic Postage Stamp (1992)

Yugoslav Pošta Telegraf Telefon (PTT) issued a stamp in 1992 commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking on April 15, 1912. The stamp shows a painting by Radomir Bojanić depicting the Titanic’s last moments. At the bottom is the name of the country that issued the stamp. It was counting its final days.

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Zagreb, 1990

Photo: Emil Vas

On Sunday, May 13, 1990, Football Club Dinamo from Zagreb and Football Club Crvena Zvezda (Red Star) from Belgrade met at the Maksimir stadium in Zagreb. The match was played just a few days after Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) emerged victorious in the first multi-party elections, defeating the reformed communists. The game was quickly interrupted, as clashes broke out between fans of Zvezda (Delije)—then led by Željko Ražnatović Arkan, the future commander of the paramilitary Serbian Volunteer Guard—and Dinamo (Bad Blue Boys), who openly supported nationalist HDZ.

Only a handful of police officers unsuccessfully attempted to quell the violence. The photograph depicts the moment when Dinamo captain Zvonimir Boban assaults Refik Ahmetović. Boban’s action made him a national hero in Croatia, but he was expelled from the Yugoslav national team, which a month later, under the guidance of Ivica Osim, participated in its last World Cup in Italy. It is commonly believed that the war began at Maksimir due to the nationalist nature of the clashes and the open expression of interethnic hatred. About a hundred spectators and police officers were injured. There were no fatalities.

Dinamo and Crvena Zvezda met at Maksimir once again, for the last time, on May 18, 1991, after the armed conflicts in Croatia had already begun. The match was played without incident. Dinamo triumphed with a 3:2 tally. Eleven days after this match, Red Star won the European championship.

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The Five-pointed Star

Belgrade, 1997

Photo: Srđan Ilić

Exhibit: from the collection of the Museum of Yugoslavia

After three months of mass demonstrations (November 1996 – February 1997), Slobodan Milošević and his regime accepted the results of the local elections. The opposition took over the city government in Belgrade on February 21, 1997, and Zoran Đinđić, the president of the Democratic Party and one of the leaders of the opposition, became the mayor. The first action taken by the newly elected mayor was to remove the five-pointed star from the roof of the Belgrade City Assembly. This symbolic gesture was supposed to mark the victory and announce the overthrow of Slobodan Milošević, often called “the last communist dictator”. Three alpinists were employed to carry out the removal of the communist symbol. One of them signalled its removal to the audience by displaying “three fingers,” a national symbol popularized in the early 1990s by Vuk Drašković, the leader of the Serbian Renewal Movement. The star was given to Zoran Đinđić, who donated it personally to the Museum “25 May”  (now the Museum of Yugoslavia).

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After 1990 on the territory of the former Yugoslavia, monuments (from sculptures to memorial inscriptions) dedicated to events and figures associated with the People’s Liberation Struggle and anti-fascist and communist movements were removed, destroyed, damaged, or neglected. Destruction was habitually carried out in war zones, but even occurred far away from the front lines. The monuments represented an undesirable, ignored, and sporadically preserved heritage. The largest among them such as the memorial to the victims of the Ustasha genocide in Jasenovac by Bogdan Bogdanović, the monuments on Sutjeska, Kozara, and Petrova gora, and the routinely vandalized Partisan cemetery complex in Mostar (conceptualized by Bogdan Bogdanović) still exist. The monument dedicated to the Victory of the People of Slavonia (1968) by Vojin Bakić, the largest abstract sculpture in the world, was destroyed by members of the Croatian Army in 1992. More than 700 monuments and 2200 memorials were destroyed in Croatia alone. Approximately 400 were restored, including the Monument to the Uprising of the People of Croatia in Srb, in Lika. In Slovenia, Istria, Macedonia, and Montenegro, as well as in parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, the monuments, despite being frequently neglected, are mainly preserved, sometimes due to the local population’s willingness to defend the memory of the victims and the struggle against the Nazi-fascist occupiers.


Stjepan (Stevan) Filipović, national hero

The replica of the Valjevo monument (Vojin Bakić) from Dragan Srdić’s collection

Stjepan (Stevan) Filipović (1916-1942), a Croat from Opuzen, was a revolutionary who began an uprising in the Valjevo region of Serbia in 1941. He was captured by the Chetniks led by Kosta Pećanac and executed by members of the quisling Serbian State Guard on May 22, 1942, in Valjevo. When they placed a rope around his neck, he raised his hands in defiance and yelled, “Death to fascism, freedom to the people!” The photograph of his execution became a worldwide icon of anti-fascist resistance.

In addition to the monument created by Vojin Bakić in Valjevo, another monument was erected in his hometown of Opuzen in Croatia (authors: Miro Vuco and Stjepan Gračan, 1978). It was dynamited in the night of July 17, 1991, and the pedestal was removed in 2010 to make way for a shopping center.

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Josip Broz Tito,

Leader of the partisan movement and the president of Yugoslavia

Author: Antun Augustinčić

slashed, perpetrator unknown

From Dragan Srdić’s collection

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Boris Kidrič,

Revolutionary, theoretician, and father of the economic recovery of Yugoslavia

Author: Olga Jevrić

From Dragan Srdić’s collection

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Slobodan Penezić Krcun

Revolutionary, national hero, high official of Yugoslavia

Author: Sreten Stojanović

From Dragan Srdić’s collection

Street Names

In newly constituted states, the end of socialism was marked by the renaming of streets and squares. In Slovenia and Croatia, this process began as early as 1990 and 1991, whereas in Serbia, a more comprehensive renaming of streets, such as in Belgrade, started in 1997 when anti-Milošević opposition took over the city government. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the renaming began during the conflict and continued after the war, particularly in areas under the control of Serb and Croat forces, but also, to a lesser degree, in Bosniak-majority regions. After the 1999 conflict, the names of many streets and squares in Kosovo were drastically altered, particularly those associated with Yugoslav and communist symbols or Serbian history.

The rehabilitation of Nazi-fascist collaborators, including war criminals, has resulted in the most controversial street and square renaming. Their nationalism and anticommunism, combined with judicial and extrajudicial liquidations following World War II, turned them into “victims of communism,” thus providing justification for initiatives to name streets and schools after them. Well-known examples include streets named after Ustasha war criminals Mile Budak, Rafael Boban, and Jure Francetić in some Croatian and Herzegovina cities. Additionally, there are streets named after Draža Mihailović, the leader of the Chetnik movement convicted in 1946 for collaboration and war crimes, such as the one in the East Sarajevo neighbourhood of Dobrinja.

Streets and squares continue to be battlegrounds for symbolic ideological struggles and space marking. A paradigmatic example is the fate of streets and squares named after Josip Broz Tito. In most localities in Istria, Slovenia, Montenegro, and Macedonia, streets and squares bearing his name have been preserved. However, in Belgrade, Tito Street was renamed as The Serbian Rulers’ Street in the early 1990s and later changed to King Milan Street in 1997. The attempt to abolish Titova Street in Sarajevo was met with resistance from the local population, and the street remains a symbol of the city. Marshal Tito Square in Zagreb remained unchanged until 2017 when it was renamed The Republic of Croatia Square due to a short-lived coalition between then-mayor Milan Bandić and radical right-wingers. The 2019 renaming of Zadar Street (Zadarska), which had carried that name on Kosančićev venac in Belgrade since 1896, as Dobrica Ćosić Street—an influential nationalist writer and politician—demonstrates that not even geographical localities are spared if their “belonging” is questionable.

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War Symbols

Even before the dissolution of Yugoslavia, new military and paramilitary formations began to emerge. Alongside the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA), the Territorial Defence in Slovenia launched independent action in 1990 and played a crucial role in the 10-day conflict in Slovenia (June—July 1991). The National Guard Corps (ZNG, also known as Zenge) was established in Zagreb on April 20, 1991, by Franjo Tuđman’s decree, and the first ZNG brigades were presented to the public at the NK Zagreb stadium on May 28, 1991. As a result of the dissolution of Yugoslavia the JNA ceased to exist and new armed forces were formed, including the Army of Yugoslavia (for Serbia and Montenegro), the Croatian Army, the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Army of the Republic of Macedonia. In addition, various paramilitary and military formations appeared, including the Army of the Republika Srpska Krajina and the Croatian Defence Forces (HOS) in Croatia, the Army of the Republika Srpska, the Croatian Defence Council, the HOS, and the military formations of the Autonomous Province of West Bosnia in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the Liberation Army of Kosovo (KLA or UÇK). These were followed by some party and private armed groups, including the “White Eagles” of the Serbian Radical Party, the aforementioned HOS of the Croatian Party of Rights, the “Serbian Volunteer Guard” or the Tigers of Željko Ranatović Arkan, as well as the “Patriotic League” and the “Green Berets” associated with the Bosnian Muslim “Party of Democratic Action.” These armed formations and organizations used ethnic, national, and even religious symbols, as well as symbols of the defeated collaborationist forces (Ustasha and Chetniks) from World War II. Numerous commanders and members of these armies and paramilitary groups have been accused of inhuman treatment, crimes against humanity, and genocide; some have been tried and convicted.

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Passport of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

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: Dejan Gocić
1972 / actor /

Donors’ place of residence during the 1990s: Niš 

Object title: Passport SFR Yugoslavia

Place that the object relates to: Niš

Year that the object relates to: 1990

Question: What does this object represent for you? 
Answer: It’s a red passport that used to hold great significance, granting you the ability to travel freely all over the world.  I travelled with it to all the Eastern bloc countries that no longer exist. It bears stamps of those countries that are now Europe.



Passport of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

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: Vera Pullen
1978 / Novi Sad /

Donors’ place of residence during the 1990s: Beograd 

Object title: Passport of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

Place that the object relates to: Beograd

Year that the object relates to: 2001

Question: What does this object represent for you? 
Answer: The period of isolation of Serbia as a result of Milosevic’s policies in the nineties. Waiting in lines in front of embassies with numerous documents, hoping that our intention to travel will be deemed “honorable” and visa granted.