The Final Months
The Final Months
From Total War to Communist Victory
From September 1944 to April 1945, Sarajevo experienced its most physically and psychologically devastating chapter of the war—one characterized by bombings, police occupation, total war, terror, and the introduction of a new revolutionary government. This chapter explores the town's response to the gradual collapse of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) and the birth of the next new order, Tito's socialist Yugoslavia. It suggests, first, that members of Sarajevo's local elite refused to abandon their posts or cave in to anarchy as the public sphere imploded. Using the social, cultural, and civic networks they had fostered for three years, they sought to chaperone Sarajevo safely through this final, devastating chapter of war. In their struggle to keep the city functioning, many local leaders abandoned their political and ideological alliances and made Sarajevo itself a priority. Such a focus became increasingly difficult to maintain as terror descended upon the city in February and March 1945. Reacting to its imminent demise, the Ustasha regime lashed out at Sarajevans in irrational, vengeful acts of cruelty that left the town reeling in a state of shock. Sarajevo was on the brink of a psychological collapse when the Partisans arrived in April 1945. The new occupiers took advantage of this mood to secure the town and fill the vacuum of leadership. While the complex process of socialist revolution would take years, the Partisans set it in motion within days of Sarajevo's liberation. Stunned from the barbaric viciousness of the Ustasha regime's final days, most Sarajevans simply accepted it.
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