The Partisans are anti-facist and united by ideology rather than ethnicity and as a result attract both Croats and Serbs to their cause. In fact so successful and popular is the Partisan movement that it spreads across the length and breadth of Yugoslavia and by the end of WWII its composition has changed radically and is now 9% Croats and 70% Serb.They are a well drilled military force of 800,000.
To complicate matters further there had emerged a movement in Croatia which was composed of Croatian Serbs known as Chetniks, seeking to establish independent control over areas where Serbs are in the majority. They used similar tactics to the Ustace but in the opposite direction, targeting Croats and Bosnians within Croatia.
Still with me? Kristina talked to us for three hours explaining this. My apologies if it's a bit dense. Kristina gave us a couple of short breaks so feel free to make a cup of tea and come back (or not).
The war ends. The Germans leave and Tito and the Partisans (they deserve a capital "P"
by now) gain the upper hand. But remember, Tito was rather enamored of Stalin? Under his leadership the Partisans are just as ruthless as the Ustace. Tito initiates a policy of retaliation targeting members of the Ustace and any suspected collaborators. Up to 100,000 people are massacred, many being children and women fleeing towards Austria to seek safety in the hands of the Allied forces.
1980 - Tito dies with no clear succession plan. The Central Yugoslav Parliament elects to offer each of the Yugoslav State Presidents a rotating role as President. This is intended as a way of maintaining unity but backfires badly. It is unclear who is leading the country, rivalries emerge and the most dangerous of these is the Serbian politician Slobodan Milosevic. He is ambitious and aggressively pro Serbian and manages to take control of Serbia, becoming President in 1989 on a promise to "Make Serbia Great Again". He uses Kosovo as his lever. The population of Kosovo is about 75% Albanian. The Serb minority have aspirations to take control deeming the Kosovo territory to be historically Serbian. The Kosovo Serbs foment rallies and when Milosevic visits they stage a violent rally with the specific intent of provoking the Kosovo police. A street battle ensues. The Serbs complain of being beaten and Milosevic promises them: "You will never be beaten again".
1991 - Croatia and Slovenia have been observing these events with trepidation. Milosevic is on the rise. Serbian nationalism is rampant - inflammatory speeches are made by Milosevic, often misrepresenting the real situation, Croatian militia are accused of massacres of their Serbian/Croatian brothers and sisters; he reminds the Serbian public of the horrors of the Ustace era.