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Socialist Yugoslavia: National minorities

Last modified: 2011-11-11 by ivan sache
Keywords: national minority | star (red) | crescent (white) | star (white) |
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Status of the national minorities in Socialist Yugoslavia

National minorities (narodnost) were those ethnical groups without statehood within Socialist Yugoslavia, as opposed to the five (later six) nations (narod) of Yugoslavia.

The minority census in Yugoslavia in 1981 was as follows:

Albanians

7.72 %

Bulgarians

0.16 %

Czechs

0.07 %

Hungarians

1.90 %

Romanians

0.25 %

Ruthenians

0.10 %

Slovaks

0.36 %

Italians

0.07 %

Turks

0.45 %

Others

1.12 %

Source: Veliki geografski atlas Jugoslavije, SNL (1987)

The book Svijet oko nas - enciklopedija za djecu i omladinu II, IX. issue, Skolska knjiga, Zagreb (1985), page 403, paragraph Zastave nasih naroda (The flags of our nations) states that (my translation):

... All nationalities in Yugoslavia have equal right to hoist their national flags, but with the red five-pointed star in the middle, as common symbol of belonging to SFR Yugoslavia.

This is a book for the youth and not a vexillological reference book, so the statement that the star was in the middle should not be taken too straightforward - it is well known that some national minorities used flags with the star in canton (e.g. Albanians). Anyway, these defaced flags existed, they were legal and allowed by law (which does not mean that a law described them!).
Actually, I believe that the law used similar wording allowing such flags, but not specifying their name (and description), so that, in theory, any ethnical community could have used a defaced flag. It is another question if the defaced flag was used, and what its exact design was.

Those flags were based on the national flags used by partisan units in Tito's army during the Second World War.

Željko Heimer 14 June 1999

When Milošević took power in Serbia, all minorities flags disappeared. Albanians then begun to use the new Albanian national flag (without the star).

Ivan Sarajčić, 6 May 1999


Albanian minority in Kosovo

[Flag of the Albanian minority in Yugoslavia]

Flag of the Albanian minority - Image by Željko Heimer & Tomislav Todorović, 10 November 2009

The Albanian flag with the red star outlined in yellow is not the flag of Kosovo, and it has never been so. The flag was the flag of the Albanian ethnical minority from the late 1940s to the late 1980s.

Željko Heimer, 6 May 1999


Bulgarian minority in south-eastern Serbia and eastern Macedonia

[Bulgarian minority in Macedonia]

Flag of the Bulgarian minority - Image by Željko Heimer, 12 October 2003

The flag of the Bulgarian minority was horizontally divided white-green-red with a red star outlined in yellow placed in the middle.

Željko Heimer, 12 October 2003


Czech minority in Vojvodina and Croatia

[Czech minority]

Flag of the Czech minority - Image by Željko Heimer, 12 November 2008

According to the book Cehoslovacka brigada "Jan Ziska" (OO SUBNOR-a Daruvar, Daruvar, Croatia, SFRY, 1988), the Czech national minority used a flag horizontally divided white-red with a blue triangle at hoist (that is the Czechoslovak flag) and a yellow bordered red five-pointed star set in the middle of the white stripe. The flag was originally made for the "Jan Žiška" Czechoslovak brigade of the National Liberation Army and Partisan Units by the youth of the village of Trojeglava (today in Dežanovac, near Daruvar, Croatia, with still a considerable percentage of Czechs living there) on 1 October 1944.

Goran Imbrišić & Željko Heimer, 15 April 2008


German minority in Vojvodina and eastern Croatia

[German minority in Vojvodina]

Flag of the German minority - Image by Željko Heimer, 12 October 2003

The flag of the German minority was horizontally divided black-red-gold with a red star outlined in yellow placed in the middle.

Željko Heimer, 12 October 2003


Hungarian minority in Vojvodina and eastern Croatia

[Hungarian minority in Vojvodina]

Flag of the Hungarian minority - Image by Željko Heimer, 12 October 2003

The flag of the Hungarian minority was horizontally divided red-white-green with a red star outlined in yellow placed in the middle. Th Hungarian community was largest in Vojvodina and eastern Croatia where this flag was mainly to be seen, but existed also in eastern Slovenia.

Željko Heimer, 12 October 2003


Italian minority in Istria

Flag of the Italian minority in Istria]

Flag of the Italian minority - Image by Željko Heimer, 7 April 2000

The flag of the Italian minority was vertically divided green-white-red with a red star outlined in yellow placed in the middle.
This flag was very often seen flying together with national, republic (Croat or Slovenian), and Socialist Party flags.

The Italian flag with the red star had been used in Fiume since about 1943 and officially since 1946 or 1947 as the flag of the Italian ethnic group in Yugoslavia. The flag was still in use until 1990 and the break of Yugoslavia, when it was replaced by the Italian flag, now used by Italians living both in Slovenia and Croatia.

Željko Heimer, 7 April 2000


Polish minority in Croatia

[Polish minority in Croatia]

Flag of the Polish minority - Unconfirmed reconstruction by Željko Heimer, 9 April 2002

There were about 1,000 Poles in Croatia according to censuses made in 1961, 1971 and 1981, which is comparable with some other ethnic minorities that were reportedly using flags, so there must have been an appropriate flag for those, at least in theory.

Željko Heimer, 9 April 2002


Romanian minority in eastern Vojvodina

[Romanian minority]

Flag of the Romanian minority - Image by Željko Heimer, 12 October 2003

The flag of the Romanian minority was vertically divided blue-yellow-red with a red star outlined in yellow placed in the middle. The yellow border was achieved unfrequently by heavy stiching, so it was visible even if of the same colour as the field.

Željko Heimer, 12 October 2003


Ruthenian and Ukrainian minority in western Slavonia and Vojvodina

[Romanian minority]

Flag of the Ruthenian and Ukrainian minority - Image by Željko Heimer, 10 May 1999

The Ruthenian (Rusini, Walachian) and Ukrainian minority used the defaced Ukrainian flag, horizontally divided blue-yellow with a red star outlined in yellow placed in the middle. The yellow border of the star was either achieved by stiching or it was simply ignored and omitted.
They Ruthenians and Ukrainians consider themselves as one nation, or fairly close, and the name they use for themselves mainly depends on the time when they migrated to this part of the country. Today in Croatia, Ruthenians still use the same flag as the Ukrainians, and indeed they usually have common societies etc.

Željko Heimer, 10 May 1999


Slovak minority in western Slavonia and Vojvodina

[Slovak minority in Yugoslavia]

Flag of the Slovak minority - Image by Željko Heimer, 30 March 1998

The Slovak minority flag was similar to the flag of the People's Republic of Slovenia.
I saw some flags on a Serbian television channel, in an old 1976 report from the municipality of Kovačiža, Vojvodina, where the Slovaks represent about 50% of the population. Flags had the star slightly skewed a to the hoist

Velid Jerlagić, 30 March 1998


Turkish minority in Sanžak and Macedonia

[Turkish minority in Yugoslavia]       [Muslim minority in Yugoslavia]

Two reported flags of the Turkish minority - Images by Željko Heimer, 12 October 2003

The flag of the Turkish minority was red with white a white crescent and five-pointed star in the middle and a red star outlined in yellow placed in canton.

A similar flag, but without the white star, was reportedly in use by Muslims in Kosovo and Macedonia. It is not clear whether this is an incorrect flag for Turks, though these Muslims were of Slavic origin, similarly as the Bosnian Muslims.

Željko Heimer, 12 October 2003