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Workers’ holiday resorts: Creating the industrial culture for blue collars of Yugoslavia after the Second World War

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11:30 AM, Mardi 30 Août 2022 (20 minutes)
This paper explores the Workers’ holiday resorts (Croat. Radnička odmarališta) in ex-Yugoslavia designed by the communist government from 1945 onwards to fulfill the country’s ideology of an emerging socialist society. The Workers’ holiday resorts were retreat hotels for workers, mostly visited in summer and situated on the Croatian Adriatic coast. After World War II, Yugoslavia began accelerating plans for rebuilding and restructuring, first and foremost through the industrialization and modernization of the country. From 1946 social tourism was introduced as a new element of social standard. The system was based on the workers’ holiday resorts with subsidized accommodation and transport for laborers and their families. Almost every big factory and governmental institution had its own Workers’ holiday resort. Most of the brand-new Yugoslav factory laborers came from agricultural backgrounds, unfamiliar with the concept of working in a factory and living in the city. In the process of industrialization, the communist party had to instruct them on how to benefit from new circumstances. Factory workers were schooled to familiarize with the concept of traveling and resting in a remote tourist destination. The initial hesitation for vacationing disappeared completely because of a regime forceful propaganda, and by the 1960s paid holidays became a basic standard for the working class. In the mid-1980s, in Croatia there were around 700 Workers’ holiday resorts with an average of 100 beds registered. Labor and leisure were intertwined and together considered to be of great importance for the new social development. Although the ideology of the Yugoslav socialism changed over time, appropriating more and more elements from Western consumer culture, social tourism allowed, until its abolition in 1990, for all workers to be entitled to a decent holiday despite their modest wages. The workers’ holidays were supposed to be a generator for social integration, not just in making workers into tourists, but also as an opportunity for its diverse nationalities to experience other regions’ culture and to create a Yugoslav unity. Today, after the collapse of the industrial production in all new post-Yugoslav states and brutal privatization mugging, most of ex the Workers’ resorts are abandoned, most of them in a state of decay. In 2011 the term Radnička odmarališta was erased from the Croatian legislation constitution. Thirty years after the breakup of Yugoslavia, due to unresolved international relations between today's states, former members of Yugoslavia, the destiny of the workers' resorts is still ambiguous and uncertain. The idea behind this paper is to give a summary of Yugoslavian social tourism for mostly blue-collar workers, but also to discuss its legacy as industrial cultural heritage. Industrial culture inevitably involves questions of workers' leisure. If the Yugoslav Workers’ holiday resorts represent industrial heritage, must we determine which models would be most acceptable for its safeguarding? The research examines archival sources, print media, particularly the magazine by the name of Tourism, published since 1933 with a lot of articles dedicated to workers' resorts, audio-visual archive material and oral history.

Veronika Gamulin


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