Between the World Wars (1918 – 1941)
After the end of World War I and constitution of new state – the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, according to the Decree on Organizing Ministry of Internal Affairs from May 8, 1919, the Directorate for Public Security of the Ministry of Internal Affairs was in charge of performing civil security-intelligence work.
The Department for State Protection was established by decision of the Ministry of Internal Affairs passed on December 23, 1920. According to this decision, the department had task to "gather information, organise supervision and undertake all the necessary measures against persons, either our citizens or foreigners, who disturb integrity of the state, are involved in propaganda activity for the benefit of some other state and contrary to our own state interests and whose earlier or current activities can be considered suspicious".
According to the Code of Conduct adopted on January 10, 1921, the Department for State Protection was divided into 4 sections and 27 subsections.
The first section comprised 5 subsections: 1. Secretariat, 2. Archive, 3. Registrar's Office, 4. Passports and movement of passengers and 5. Journalist subsection.
The second section was divided into 6 subsections: 1. Communists and Anarchists, 2. Suspicious Russians, 3. Immigration Agency, 4. Control of Foreigners, 5. Associations and Clubs and 6. Foreign Offices.
The third section consisted of 9 subsections: 1. Italian propaganda, 2. Austrian and German propaganda, 3. Hungarian propaganda, 4. Romanian propaganda, 5. Other suspicious foreigners, 6. Suspicious citizens of Croatia and Slavonia, 7. Suspicious citizens of Slovenia, 8. Suspicious citizens of Vojvodina and 9. Suspicious citizens of Dalmatia.
The fourth section included 7 subsections: 1. Bulgarian propaganda, 2. Arnaut propaganda, 3. Muslim propaganda, 4. Greece propaganda, 5. Suspicious citizens of Serbia, 6. Suspicious citizens of Bosnia and 7. Suspicious citizens of Montenegro.
Field of activity of the Department for State Protection was regulated in detail by the Instruction for suppressing anti-state propaganda and foreign espionage passed on November 26, 1923. In line with this act, the department was responsible for intelligence and counter-intelligence police issues, control, security and keeping of records on foreigners, dealing with immigrant issues and repatriation, suppression of anti-state propaganda, control of foreign military defectors, monitoring and control of associations, various gatherings and manifestations and other issues on which a proper record was kept. Furthermore, the department was in charge of drafting new bills with aim to protect the state.
After abolition of the Vidovdan Constitution and dismissal of parliament on January 6, 1929, and then establishment of new government led by Petar Živković, a series of laws and regulations on state administration reform were adopted.
According to the Law on Internal Administration from January 19, 1929 and the Decree on Structure of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Department for State Protection developed into the First Department within the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The department was divided into 2 sections (first section – for suppressing internal anti-state and destructive propaganda and conducting actions along with the intelligence service and second section – for suppressing external anti-state propaganda and conducting actions along with the intelligence service) and 3 subsections (Subsection for police supervision of foreigners and passenger traffic, Administrative Subsection and Subsection for the Press).
The Department for State Protection was organised in this way up to the occupation of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1941.