On October 20, 1944, Tito's Partisan troops and the Soviet army under the command of Marshal Tolbukhin captured Belgrade, the capital of Jugoslavia. The Russians threw bridges over the Sava and Danube rivers, at whose confluence Belgrade had historically stood guard over the gate opening on the Balkans to the south and central Europe to the north. The Soviet army pursued the Germans who were retreating toward Hungary, while the Partisans fought to clear Jugoslavia of the enemy.
In the spring of 1945, Jugoslavia was reconstituted. It had fallen apart in 1941, mainly along the lines tracing the borders of seven lands united in 1918 but never really fused. The fact that Jugoslavia as a unit was reborn in pain and blood proved belatedly that the growth of its component parts into one state body was organically justified. World War II had given rise to a national revolution in the country. It began in 1941 with an almost total destruction of the makeshift unification of peoples and lands, and it ended in a real community.
Prior to this development, Jugoslavia appeared to be the classic example of the fatal consequences of President Wilson's message calling on all peoples to determine their fates for themselves. His first message accomplished its purpose. Like Joshua's trumpet call at the walls of Jericho, it caused the Hapsburg empire to come tumbling down. It was his second message, interpreting the first to the effect that each people was entitled to live in its own state,