'Yugonostalgia' Takes Hold in Slovenia

Some 1,000 people gather near a statue of Josip Broz Tito i i

Some 1,000 people gather near a statue of Josip Broz Tito during a ceremony commemorating the 26th anniversary of his death in Sarajevo, May 4. Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Getty Images
Some 1,000 people gather near a statue of Josip Broz Tito

Some 1,000 people gather near a statue of Josip Broz Tito during a ceremony commemorating the 26th anniversary of his death in Sarajevo, May 4.

Getty Images

This year, Slovenia celebrated the 15th anniversary of its secession from Yugoslavia. The economy is good, and the country will adopt the euro next year. Slovenia has been hailed as the great Balkan success story. But many look back longingly toward the days when Slovenia was still part of Yugoslavia. For those who feel "Yugonostalgia," life felt better in the days of Josip Broz Tito.

College dorm rooms are decorated with posters of the former dictator, and crowds deliver a lively response to "Racunajte na nas," which was written in 1978 as an anthem to socialism and to Tito.

Jurij Krevil, who runs a cafe in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana, says that life felt easier when Slovenia was known as Yugoslavia.

"People had sure jobs, social security was on a very high level, the pension was guaranteed," Krevil says. "So you didn't have to save anything, I mean, you could spend anything you got. You didn't get much, but with that you could live very well."

Recently, in a documentary called Sretno Dijete (Lucky Kid), filmmaker Igor Mirkovic sets out to find the heroes of his youth, the Yugo-rock stars of the 1970s and '80s. The film was a big hit in Slovenia.

"Even us," Mirkovic says in the film, "who were raised with powerful frustrations, because we lived in a poor country at the end of the world... even we felt like this was the place to be."

Back then, Yugoslavia was comprised of six republics, three religions, five languages and a population of 25 million. Croats, Serbs, Bosnians, Slovenes and other young Yugoslavs traveled across the country to see sold-out stadium shows by bands such as Azra and Film.

Today, fewer than 2 million people live in Slovenia. The vast majority are Catholic, and nearly everyone speaks Slovene. Bands have a harder time crossing borders to other former republics, and journalist Tomas Zaniuk notes that record sales are not what they used to be.

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