The Krajina Serbs emerged more than 400 years ago as refugees, fleeing from Ottoman rule and accepting the Hapsburgs’ invitation to man the military frontier (Krajina). They stubbornly adhered to Orthodoxy despite periodic attempts to convert them to Rome. They also resisted persistent, heavy-handed attempts to forgo their Serbian ancestry and become Croatians.
Catastrophe in the form of genocide struck the Krajina Serbs, as well as their Bosnian Serb brethren in 1941, the perpetrators being the Ustasha of the Nazi-puppet state of “Greater Croatia.” Many of those spared were forcibly converted en masse to Catholicism. Serb survivors played a leading role in the emergence of wartime resistance movements.
After the war, the Krajina region was incorporated within the federal unit of Croatia, whose communist-bequeathed constitution, in deference to the Ustasha genocide, recognized its Serbs as one of its two historical and constitutional peoples. In 1990, the Krajina Serbs took up arms when it became evident that a Franjo Tudjman-led, secessionist Croatia was unrepentant about its Ustasha predecessor state and would relegate the Krajina Serbs to second-class, minority status. In August 1995, the Krajina Serbs exited history as refugees, having been murderously cleared from their “U.N.-protected” ancestral lands by the U.S.-trained Croatian military.