#025 – Discussing Corruption in Yugoslavia, 1918-2000

with Klaus Buchenau


The building of the Ministry of Justice, Terazije Square, Belgrade (source Wikimedia commons)

Historians can offer a perspective on corruption that goes beyond a normative and simplistic dimension. Approaching past discourses and events related to corruption allows to underline the transformation of its connotation through different periods and different socio-political systems. The Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1918-1941) offers a particularly interesting case study for reflecting on how debates on corruption intersected with the process of state formation, itself consisting of a centralist pattern on the basis of Ottoman and Habsburg imperial legacy. After 1945, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia redefined power and property relations with a clearly different ideological repertoire. However, corruption remained a relevant element for negotiation of power, elite circulation and generational dynamics until its dissolution and beyond.


Klaus Buchenau is Professor of History of Southeast Europe at the University of Regensburg. His main areas of research are the religious history of Southeastern Europe and the history of corruption. He loves interdisciplinarity, but only if it is grounded in a thorough knowledge of the research techniques particular to each discipline; he believes that the most interesting information is usually hidden and does not disclose at first sight.

To cite this episode: Buchenau, Klaus; Guidi, Andreas(2017): Discussing corruption in Yugoslavia, 1918-1990, The Southeast Passage #025, 14.09.2017, http://thesoutheastpassage.com/podcast/buchenau-discussing-corruption-yugoslavia-1918-1990


Further Reading:

Aleksić, Vesna (2012): Sprega države i privatnih akcionarskih banaka u Srbiji do Drugog Svetskog Rata. Primer Beogradskog Kreditnog Zavoda a.d. In Bankarstvo 41 (5), pp. 56–73.

Boestfleisch, Hans-Michael (1987): Modernisierungsprobleme und Entwicklungskrisen. Die Auseinandersetzung um die Bürokratie in Serbien 1839 – 1858. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.

Bogdanović, Dušan; Kovačević-Vučo, Biljana (2011): Zloupotrebljene institucije. Ko je bio ko u Srbiji 1987-2000. Beograd: Biljana Kovačević-Vučo Fund.

Buchenau, Klaus (2013): Korruption im ersten Jugoslawien (1918-1941). Eine Skizze zu Diskurs und Praxis. In Südost-Forschungen (72), pp. 98–132.

Buchenau, Klaus (2018 – forthcoming): Historicizing Corruption. The Example of Serbia (1817-2000). In Klaus Roth, Johannis Zelepos (Eds.): Klientelismus in Südosteuropa. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.

Bulatović, Aleksandra; Korać, Srđan (2006): Korupcija i razvoj moderne srpske države. Beograd: Centar za menadžment.

Engels, Jens Ivo (2014): Die Geschichte der Korruption. Von der frühen Neuzeit bis ins 20. Jahrhundert. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer.

Kulundžić, Zvonimir (1968): Politika i korupcija u kraljevskoj Jugoslaviji. Zagreb: Stvarnost.

Miljkovic, Maja; Hoare, Marko Attila (2005): Crime and the economy under Milosevic and his successors. In Sabrina P. Ramet, Vjeran

Pavlaković (Eds.): Serbia since 1989. Politics and society under Milošević and after. Seattle: University of Washington Press, pp. 192–226.

Minović, Živorad (2008): Politička palanka. Oblici političkog grupašenja u Srbiji 1965-1971. Čačak: Alef trojni.

Mungiu-Pippidi, Alina (2013): Becoming Denmark. Historical designs of corruption control. In Social Research: An International Quarterly 80 (4), pp. 1259–1286.

Šuvaković, Uroš(2011): Korupcija i političke stranke u Kraljevini Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca. In Nauka, bezbednost, policija 16 (1), pp. 57–68. 


In 1926, the Belgrade newspaper Politika reported widely on a corruption scandal about prime minister Nikola Pašić’s son Radomir and the cabinet crisis that followed, 25.03.1926


An article about debates on corruption within the Communist Party of Yugoslavia from the British newspaper “The Observer”, 09.03.1958 

In 1987, the “Agrokomerc Affair”, involving one of the biggest Yugoslav enterprises, was highly debated in domestic and foreign press. One of his protagonists, Fikret Abdić, is still a very influential political figure in Bosnia and Hercegovina. The Guardian, 14.09.1987



The Southeast Passage
The Southeast Passage
#025 - Discussing Corruption in Yugoslavia, 1918-2000