21 Dramatic Photographs of the Croatian War of Independence

Santa Claus with the children during Croatian War of Independence. Vukovar, 1992. Rare Historical Photos

The Croatian War of Independence was fought from 1991 to 1995 to create a sovereign Croatia.  Croatia had been imbedded in and controlled by the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. On June 25, 199, Croatia declared independence. The Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) and the local Serb forces attempted to quell the rebellion but Croat forces overcame.

The majority of Croats wanted to leave Yugoslavia. Many ethnic Serbs living in Coratia opposed the secession and wanted to seize as much land as possible from Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovia to create a Serbian nation but to remain within the Yugoslavian state.

The JNA initially tried to keep Croatia within Yugoslavia by total occupation. While these efforts proved unsuccessful, Serb forces declared a self-proclaimed Republic of Serbian Krajina (RSK) within Croatia. In January 1992, a cease fire and international recognition of a sovereign Republic of Croatia was declared. The United Nations Protection Force was deployed and combat was sporadic over the next three years. The RSK held more than a quarter of Croatian territory.

In 1995, Croatia launched two major offensives, Operation Flash and Operation Storm, which both proved to be successful. Operation Flash was the Croat push the RSK out of Okučani and the surrounding areas as well as gain control of the Zagrebe-Belgrade Motorway. Operation Storm was the last major battle of the war. The Croatian special forces advanced from the Velebit Mountain and the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, fighting for their own independence, fighting from the Bihać pocket embedded within Serbian territory regained four thousand square miles of territory.

Croatia had won its independence but about 25% of the Croatian economy was ruined, with US$37 billion in damages to infrastructure, lost production, and refugee-related costs were incurred. 20,000 people were killed in the war.

Serbian BOV (Borbeno Oklopno Vozilo translates to Combat Armored Vehicle) 1996. thefewgoodmen
Vukovar town after heavy shelling during Croatia’s war of independence, 1 January 1991. BBC
A destroyed tank in Coratia. srpskoiklop.paluba
Croatian Operation Storm 5 August 1995 Photo- MORH Ministry of defence Repubplic of Croatia (centre left- General Ante Gotovina, centre right- President Franjo Tudjman – standing above liberated town of Knin)
A shelled residence. Emmanuel Ortiz
Patients flee from the hospital in Vukova after Yugoslav army took control of it. thejournal.ie
Santa Claus with the children during Croatian War of Independence. Vukovar, 1992. Rare Historical Photos
Stray cat walking through a heavily bombarded area of Vukovar during the siege, and Croatian War of Independence. 1991 tuzlanski.ba
The battle in Vukovar lasted 87 days. mixaitouxronou.gr
Civil war. April 1992. Croatia. Vukovar (occupied by Serbs). Cemetery. Pinterest