|This recent study by a young German scholar focuses on the destiny, place and role of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches in Yugoslavia during the socialist era. Along the way it addresses issues of interconfessional relations, intrachurch politics and of course church-state relationship. The central argument of Buchenau that religious institutions in Yugoslavia had political and national relevance is proved by a wide range of archival materials from almost all republics of former Yugoslavia. He points out ambiguous policies of the socialist government toward Catholic Church at the example of the trial of Aloizije Stepinac (1946), the archbishop of Zagreb during the wartime. Buchenau claims Stepinac to be innocent of the most serious charges against him and explains the need for the trial by the Archbishop reluctance to cooperate with the communists. Equally sensitive approach applies to what concerns the Orthodox.
The book has an introductory chapter that surveys the existing literature on the topic, which is of a great use for the reader. The author provides as well a brief account of the church histories in the Yugoslav space since the Middle Ages, and more importantly pays special attention to the Interwar period in an attempt to sketch possible ruptures and continuities in state and church politics prior and after the Second World War.
Buchenau’s book is the only detailed and attentive analysis of such length and thoroughness that is available in a international language. Another similar study of comparable quality is a two volume study by Radmila Radić, which is available only in Serbian. (Drzava i verske zajednice: 1945-1970. Beograd: INIS, 2002)