To serve the King, the State and the people: the Adriatic Guard’s ambiguous position in interwar Yugoslavia

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From 1922 to 1941, the Adriatic Guard, a non-governmental Yugoslav volunteer association, was active in a very broad spectrum of sectors (transport, social and economic policies, education, tourism, science, national defense) with the aim of transforming Yugoslavia into a sea-oriented nation. Examining these activities alongside the association’s leadership, administrative, and membership structures, as well as its relationship with other Yugoslav nationalist volunteer associations and the Yugoslav state, this article highlights aspects of the association’s history and legacy. At the same time, it demonstrates that the association’s external signs of success masked internal operational problems as well as ethnic and political tensions. While the Adriatic Guard firmly supported the state and integral Yugoslavism, and succeeded in negotiating its position within the Yugoslav space and with the Yugoslav dictatorship, because of continuing conflicts over, for instance, the national question and transport infrastructure, the association’s pan-Yugoslav mobilization faded slightly in the late 1930s in favor of a Croatian orientation. The Adriatic Guard’s position was thus precarious and ambiguous: on the one hand, it was a non-governmental association that enjoyed a fair degree of agency, and on the other hand, it cultivated close relationship with the state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-140
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Review of History/Revue Europeenne d'Histoire
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2019

Bibliographical note

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© 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Adriatic Sea
  • Ivo Tartaglia
  • Yugoslavia
  • nation-building
  • transport infrastructure
  • volunteer association


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