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The Balkan Jewish Source Book. A Centropa Reader-Volume 3

Before 1918 the South Slav lands, which were to comprise Yugoslavia, did not share a common history. Divided for centuries between Ottoman and Habsburg spheres of influence, the various peoples developed their own distinct identities and particular traditions. With 'the creation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes at the end of World War I, East and West met and gave birth to a complex new multinational state'.

The creation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes also brought together in one political unit two distinct groups of Jews, the Sephardim of the former Ottoman territories and the Ashkenazim of the erstwhile Habsburg lands.

Sarajevo, Belgrade, and Zagreb were the three major cities in interwar Yugoslavia with the largest Jewish populations. Each of these centers represents a different aspect of South Slav culture; each has its own specific atmosphere. Sarajevo typifies the East, Zagreb the West, and Belgrade lies somewhere between the two extremes. Three diverse worlds - in one country. Naturally, the Jews did not react in exactly the same fashion to all of these environments. Indeed, each of the Jewish communities, whether Sephardic or Ashkenazic, was emphatically shaped by the nature of its host town.

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