Mitteilungsblatt des Instituts für soziale Bewegungen Heft 33

Heinz Willemsen: The Labour Movement and the National Question

The Communist Party of Yugoslavia in Macedonia in the Inter-War Period

In economically less developed countries, communism and nationalism tend to appear as
closely related concepts, even though they might belong to ideologically different spheres. In
the case of Macedonia, scholarship has viewed the domestic communist organization as an
instrument in the service of a nationalist movement. However, even the still limited source
material available today would allow one to draw a more complex picture of the situation.
Typically East European by social background and world view, the Macedonian communists
shared the scepticism of orthodox Marxists as regards nation and nationalism and resisted Soviet
attempts to exploit national discontent in the Balkans in the early post-World War I era.
In the wake of a severe inter-generational conflict, a group of young Belgrade students gained
control of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia in the late 1930s. The subsequent transforma-
tion of the party according to the Bolshevik model prepared the ground for a greater emphasis
on the national question, especially since the Comintern had decreed in 1935 the transition
to a policy of national front.