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Sunday, 04 July 2010

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Postcard from Europe: Tito nostalgia

 

 

Tuesday marked the 30th anniversary of the death of former Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito. And he hasn't been forgotten. In this Postcard from Belgrade, Mark Lowen looks at the phenomenon of Yugo-nostalgia.

 

Many people told me many conflicting things after I arrived in Belgrade last year – everyone in the Balkans has their version of history – but one view was often shared: a fondness for the past, the greatness of Yugoslavia, when this southern European country mattered immensely on the world stage and when Yugoslavs of all ethnic and religious origins lived harmoniously in their beautiful land.

 

Behind it all was the hand of Josip Broz 'Tito' – that half-Croat, half-Slovene Marshal who rose to power heading the Communist resistance against the Nazis during the Second World War and then led the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia until his death thirty years ago.

 

His was a unique sort of Communism – far more open to the west and liberal than his Stalinist counterparts, Yugoslavs could travel without visas to almost everywhere in the world.

 

The country was a founding member of the Non-Aligned movement – that militarily neutral grouping that ensured Yugoslavia sided neither with the US nor the Soviet Union, but gained an influential, impartial voice. And nationalism of the different Yugoslav republics was kept under wraps to ensure unity.

 

Yugoslavia's golden era?

 

People here recall that time – particularly the 1970s – as the golden era. Many never even bothered to leave the country – spending their holidays on the coast of Croatia, the mountains of Montenegro or the bustling hearts of Belgrade, Sarajevo or Zagreb.

 

But ten years after Tito's death, it all began to unravel, as nationalist leaders fuelled ethnic conflict, leading to the devastating wars in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and then Kosovo. The country fragmented into its constituent republics. Tito's dream had died.

 

Thirty years on, Yugo-nostalgia still exists. Visitors from across the former Yugoslavia descended on his tomb in Belgrade last week in their droves, one woman crying when she recalled the greatness of life under Tito.

 

From the ashes of Yugoslavia emerged poor, isolated countries like Serbia, only now recovering from the sanctions and bombing of the 1990s. The region has been left out of the EU – just Slovenia has joined, while the others are waiting anxiously in the queue for membership. And distrust lingers between the different ethnic groups – especially in Bosnia where ethnic Serbs, Croats and Muslims are perhaps more segregated now than ever.

 

In fact, the ruthless sides of life under Tito have been relegated within popular memory: his work camps for political dissidents, his secret police, his suppression of religion – he, like other Communist leaders ruled with an iron fist. Instead, there is a longing for the peace, stability and influence of the past, of Tito's land.

 

His legacy is much debated – some say he sewed the seeds of the wars that ensued – but his profile and his leadership is widely missed.

 

Author: Mark Lowen

 

Editor: Neil King

 

Deutsche Welle 8.5.2010.

 

 

 

 

After years of neglect, interest in Tito's "House of Flowers" renewed

 

 

On the eve of the 30th anniversary of his death, and with an ebb in the bloody fratricidal wars that tore Yugoslavia apart, tourists are once again returning to pay their respects at the "House of Flowers" where Josip Broz Tito, a world leader who defined international politics for much of the post World War II period, lies in state. Tito died on May 4, 1980.

 

After years of disrepair and disdain, the "House of Flowers" as it was affectionately called during Tito's lifetime, is regaining its status as a local attraction in Belgrade, Serbia, the former capital of what was once the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia.

 

Yugoslavia 's president for life was best known internationally for his role on the world diplomatic scene as the founder of the non-aligned movement. At a time in history dominated by the bi- polar politics of the "Cold War", with U.S.-backed NATO at one end and the Soviet Union's Warsaw Pact at the other, the non-aligned movement offered a third option for many countries.

 

When Tito's mausoleum was opened to the public in 1982, the House of Flowers, Tito's auxiliary office renowned for roses in its winter garden, became a site of pilgrimage. Constructed in 1974 as a place of both work and respite for the then aging leader, it was also noted for manicured lawns with peacocks walking the grounds. Tito's white marble grave occupies the spot where a water fountain was originally located.

 

An estimated 17 million people paid their respects until the outbreak of the civil war in the early 1990s. As the country he personified began to unravel after his death, the interest in Tito also declined. For almost a decade, it was closed to the public and honor guards were removed.

 

In the years of conflict among the Yugoslavs, The House of Flowers was also a place of protest, with various individuals and leaders questioning the legacy of Tito and his politics. At one stage, opposition leader Vojislav Seselj, suggested that Tito's remains be removed to Croatia , to Tito's place of birth, and that the entire complex be transformed into a recreational center.

 

When it quietly reopened, a barren House of Flowers along with its accompanying museum complex remained largely devoid of guests, with the exception of a predictable upswing in visitors experienced during May, the month of both Tito's death and his official birthday, May 25.

 

The numbers have rebounded recently according to the official tourist guide to Belgrade claiming 15,000 visitors annually, mostly former Yugoslavs coming to see the last resting place of the "Old Man," a term of endearment for a father-figure.

 

Of course, not all visitors are 'Yugo-nostagic.' A woman placed a wooden spike on his white marble coffin during a recent anniversary, the spike symbolizing the mythological death of a vampire. In addition, young people, curious about a period that predates their own, are reportedly visiting in increasing numbers.

 

Although too young to have any personal knowledge of Tito and his ear, twenty-one year-old, Vanesa Softa from Kiseljak in Bosnia and Herzegovina made the trip to Belgrade to attend the 30th anniversary of his death on May 4.

"You don't have to be very smart to see the difference between that period and this today," she said. "You can still feel that spirit, the positive spirit of that period. I can't now,in a few short sentences, explain so that it doesn't sound like a clich, but you can feel the spirit of that period: freedom, peace, brotherhood and unity."

 

Although only 35 years old, a nostalgic Igor Cacija from Belgrade paid respects to a man who offered the nation "hope."

"We are a lost generation... We've all been dumped into the unemployment line, I don't have health insurance, I don't have a family, in other words no future at all. During his period everything was possible, and those who now spit on him they can't even reach his ankle. They say he stole, that doesn't interest me whether he did or didn't, but he also gave to the people," said Cacija.

 

Editor: yan

 

Xinhua 6.5.2010.

 

 

 

Inside Tito's luxury playground

 

 

Former Yugoslavia under the late communist leader Marshall Tito never fitted the Soviet template for its satellite states. Rebuked by Moscow for being "too independent" he was courted by statesmen, royalty and celebrities from all over the world, and whenever they visited him, they were entertained in decidedly un-Communist manner, as Frank Partridge discovered.

 

From the holiday coast of north-west Croatia, it is a 20-minute ferry ride to Brijuni, an archipelago of 14 islands that for the last 30 years of Josip Broz Tito's extraordinary life became his private playground.

 

Tito would spend up to six months of the year on the islands, gardening, fishing and enjoying a lifestyle of luxury unimaginable to most of his people, if they had ever known about it.

But most did not because the islands were closed to all but their leader's coterie of hand-picked staff and labourers and a guest-list of glitterati that an American president would have found hard to match.

 

And if word did slip out about Tito's banquets and parties, there was no public indignation.

 

Playboy president

 

Most Yugoslavs liked the idea of their president cutting a dash for the cameras, kitted out in double-breasted suits from New York's Fifth Avenue and smoking fat cigars in the company of world leaders.

 

The most head-turning exhibit in the island's museum is a picture gallery of visiting VIPs, smiling in the company of the handsome, charismatic leader whose statesmanship and force of personality postponed the inevitable disintegration of the Balkan states for 40 years.

There is Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, visiting in 1954; Nasser of Egypt and Nehru of India, two years later, signing the declaration that spawned the Non-Aligned Movement that thrives today, with more than 100 member nations.

 

There is Queen Elizabeth II, paying a visit in 1972, Chancellor Willy Brandt of West Germany in 1973 and King Hussein of Jordan in 1978.

 

But Tito took his pleasures seriously too. He had a circle of famous and glamorous friends, among them Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida.

 

Gandhi's elephants

 

And many beautiful women came to Brijuni on private visits unrecorded by the official photographer.

 

Tito would collect them from the boat in his 1950s Cadillac, a gift from President Dwight Eisenhower, and drive them to one of four sprawling villas tucked away in the woods.

Four years after Tito's death in 1980, the wider public was admitted to Brijuni for the first time since an outbreak of malaria had led to its evacuation hundreds of years earlier.

 

An Austrian industrialist had bought the islands in 1893, hired a Nobel Prize-winning bacteriologist to remove the mosquitoes, and turned the main island into an exotic retreat for himself and his friends.

 

Fresh water and electricity were brought in, and he transformed the landscape with villas, lawns and gardens, sub-tropical trees and shrubs, a zoo, the first 18-hole golf course in continental Europe, and even a casino.

 

By the time Tito discovered Brijuni in the late 1940s, the Depression, Italian rule and the war had taken their toll, but he declared the islands his official summer residence and set about recreating their former splendour.

 

a safari park with animals donated by heads of state, including Shetland ponies from the British Queen and two elephants from Indira Gandhi.

 

Herds of fallow deer roamed around the parkland, keeping down the grass on the golf course.

Today, the main island is a national park, and a toy-town train shuttles tourists around the sights.

 

The government-owned villas, hardly used now, are still polished and cleaned every day.

In Tito's favourite, Villa Bijela, they preserved his basement gym, with its empty swimming pool, antiquated whirlpool and sauna.

 

Villa Jadranka is notable for its Japanese art and scrolls, Villa Brianka is done out in Argentine marble and exotica from other friendly, non-aligned nations.

 

Bond lair

 

But nothing compares with the fourth villa, Tito's "secret jewel", hidden from all but his inner circle.

 

It lies on the neighbouring island of Vanga, which is strictly out of bounds unless visitors are granted a special permit by the authorities in Zagreb.

 

Brandishing my permit, I was delivered to Vanga's jetty by a fast speedboat, where I was met and shadowed by a burly, silent guard in full military fatigues, looking absurdly out of place amidst the sub-tropical vegetation and the soothing sound of the waves and breeze.

 

Tito's glassy, open-plan villa on Vanga is shielded from view by a bamboo plantation.

 

Inside, the brilliant white walls, futuristic furniture and splashy artwork, including a Picasso, is so 1960s it could be the villain's lair in a James Bond movie.

 

The lone caretaker is a Communist-style babushka with scraped-back hair and without a scrap of make-up.

 

But her countenance softened when I asked her if she could still sense Tito's presence. "Yes," she replied. "I feel it every day."

 

In the grounds, there are plantations of oranges and mandarins, and a vineyard laid out by Tito in 1956, from vines donated by South Africa and South America, from which several varieties of wine are produced for the very occasional visitors.

 

As I sipped on a glass of 2008 Malvazia, I drank in the beauty and tranquillity of this magical place, and considered just how wrong we were about the Communists.

 

Or one of them, at least.

 

BBC 8.8.2009.

 

 

 

Josip Broz Tito's grandson wants communism back

 

 

Thirty years after the death of former Yugoslav communist stalwart Josip Broz Tito, his grandson and namesake Josip Broz has begun the uphill task of resurrecting his grandfather's ideals.

Tito, who created a multi-ethnic Yugoslavia after World War II, ruled unchallenged for 35 years until his death on May 04, 1980.

After a split with Moscow, Tito skilfully developed a system which was described by the West as "communism with a human face".

But 11 years after his death, the country got divided, with six former republics becoming independent states. Today, Tito is revered by a few, hated by many and all traces of his rule have been practically obliterated.

 

There was hardly a city in the former Yugoslavia whose main street wasn't named after Tito. Today there are only a few streets with Tito's name.

His 63-year-old grandson, nicknamed Joska, is the son of Tito's elder son Zarko. He has decided to reverse the course of history and to resurrect his grandfather's ideals. He is collecting 10,000 signatures needed to register his own Communist Party.

"I hope we will complete it by the end of May and our goal is to join parliament after next election," Broz said in an interview with AKI news agency.

One of the problems he faces is that Tito was a Croat and many Serbs perceive Joska as such, despite the fact that he declares himself a Yugoslav and has lived all his life in Serbia.

Asked what motivated him to embark on what seems an impossible task, Broz said: "I'm not suffering from leadership ambitions, but I felt compelled to act after seeing the sad state of the country."

Another motive was to "preserve respect and a memory for everything grandfather has done", he said.

Serbia is grappling with 750,000 jobless, and the average monthly wage has fallen below EUR 300. The country's foreign debt has tripled to EUR 30 billion since democratic change followed the popular revolt that toppled former strongman Slobodan Milosevic on October 05, 2000.

News by Newsofap.com 9.4.2010.

 

 

 

'Tito-nostalgia' Reigns 30 Years After His Death


For many former Yugoslavs, May 4 will be a day to reflect on the 30 years since their charismatic but controversial leader, Josip Broz Tito, died.

Tito steered a plural country for 35 years after the end of World War II and, whether they liked him or not, most people above 45 in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia - that were created out of Yugoslavia by the wars of the 1990s - know that the Tito era was the best part of their lives.

"We were moving forward in each and every way since 1945," said Tanja Dokmanovic, 75, a retired elementary school teacher from Belgrade. "Our living standards were great compared to what we have now, we were welcome everywhere we went," she told IPS. "But since the wars, Serbs have become pariahs and poverty is constantly knocking on ordinary people’s doors,’’ Dokmanovic added.

 

Like many ordinary people, Dokmanovic cannot understand how and why the Tito magic, that lasted a decade after his passing, turned into bloodshed.

However, for historians and analysts, the answers are pretty simple.

"Tito was a master of enchantment," history professor Predrag Markovic told IPS. "On the one hand, he enchanted the West with his anti-fascist liberation movement in the WW II; on the other, he enchanted the developing countries in the early 1960s by creating the non-aligned movement.

''At home, people lived comfortable lives under his liberal dictatorship, as socialism takes care about all your needs…when people say they are nostalgic about his era, they are practically nostalgic about the safety and security of the past".

For analyst and sociologist Aleksa Djilas, Tito was also popular due to his "resistance to [former Soviet dictator Josef ] Stalin, as Yugoslavia never went into his orbit and people lived different lives from other communist nations."

According to Djilas, the achievements of Tito's rule were also about "social justice, participation of workers in the production process and profit distribution and undoubted anti-fascism".

On the other hand, some of the achievements of modern 20th century were not cherished under Tito, Djilas told IPS, "most importantly, the rule of law and building of a society with real human rights."

Tito was relatively mild towards dissidents. He either put them into prison for several years or removed them from the political scene when they were seen to be a danger to his undisputed popularity or publicly defied his official communist party policy.

Aleksa Djilas's father, Milovan, one of Tito's aides during WW II and for several years afterwards, became a prominent dissident who spent years in jail due to his criticism of Tito's rule. Aleksa Djilas had to live in exile for years due to his father's activities.

Yet he thinks that disintegration would not have been the destiny of Yugoslavia had there been the adequate modern policy and democratisation after Tito's death rather than the "hegemonic rule of [communist] party where proper, democratic institutions were never created."

"Yugoslavia was not an artificial creation, it disintegrated in bloodshed that should have never happened, but I'm still Yugo-nostalgic, yet not Tito-nostalgic," he said.

Being Yugo-nostalgic or Tito-nostalgic is a controversial issue in parts of former Yugoslavia even today.

In Croatia, this amounts to heresy as the nation forged its independence in the war against federal troops that came from the Serbian (and former Yugoslav) capital of Belgrade. However, what goes for official policy does not go for ordinary people.

"Compared to what we have now, Tito's era was the time when God walked the earth," said Nives Lucev, 65, a retired shopkeeper.

"I like to live in independent Croatia, of course, but there's a big difference between then and now. We can't afford what we could easily have in previous times and pensioners barely survive if they don't have children to support them,’’ Lucev said.

‘’I support my mother who is 85, and the time is coming when my daughter will have to support me. And we see people getting richer on our backs simply by stealing the property created in the past, and mostly in Tito's time," Lucev told IPS over phone from Zagreb.

Social injustice and the hardships of adapting to capitalism have not spared Tito’s kin.

Tito's grandson Josip Broz, 63, inherited nothing from his grandfather. ‘’He [Tito] wanted everything to go to his people, to the state. He is better remembered in the non-aligned nations now than among former Yugoslavs…When Serb officials now travel to those countries trying to revive membership, they are greeted with the words 'Yugoslavia, Tito', I know that for sure," he told IPS.

"I'd like everything that Tito collected or that belonged to him while he was alive to be put into exhibition at one place, so that people can see what he left to them…I know that there's a ‘Tito's villa' in each of the former republics, but those were premises owned by people and not by him. Now they're shamefully usurped by local leaders or by tycoons who simply took them over for themselves.’’

For the younger generation, there is little to know about Tito apart from what their parents tell them. Mention of Tito in the history texts depends on the level of odium against him in each of the successor states.

The views of the young on Tito can be summed up by what Hajra Smajlovic, 22, from Sarajevo, said: "That's something my parents or grandparents talk about. I don't know what to think about Tito…I often think that it's their talk, about their youth and better times and nothing else.’’

 

By Vesna Peric Zimonjic

 

IPS 30.4.2010.

 

 

 

The Nation: Message to America from Yugoslavia's President Josip Broz Tito

 

 

I wish to extend my most cordial congratulations to the American people on the occasion of the Bicentennial of the United States of America, the anniversary of that historic day when, as a result of the struggle by men and women of the "New World" for liberation from colonial oppression and foreign domination, a revolutionary political charter—the Declaration of Independence—was proclaimed. This struggle and the Declaration manifested a number of illuminating truths that have survived the past two centuries and inspired many generations. These truths are that all men are equal before the law, that national sovereignty is the highest principle, and that to live in freedom and independence is the sacred and inviolate right of man.

 

The proclamation of human rights and democratic political principles has exercised significant impact on many a similar document as well as on liberation movements all over the world. The vitality of these principles has been corroborated by history. They not only have opened the prospects of free development and the building up of the United States of America and of the American nation but also have encouraged other nations in their struggle for freedom and independence.

 

Impressive achievements both in the material and the spiritual spheres have sprung out of the powerful and rich resources with which nature has endowed the United States of America, as well as from the diligent hands and the creative genius of the immigrants from many countries of other continents. That is why we too recall with pride many sons and daughters of Yugoslav descent who have contributed by their work to the development of America. These numerous Americans originating in Yugoslavia have been, and will remain a living link of friendship between Yugoslavia and the U.S.

 

Such famous figures as the scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla and Physicist Michael Pupin come to our memory. So do the names of the violinist and philanthropist Zlatko Balokovic, one of the founders and chairman of the Society of Friends of New Yugoslavia in the U.S.; of Louis Adamic, the author and publicist; Ivan Mestrovic, great genius of sculpture; and many others.

 

Many of our people live and work throughout the U.S.

 

They maintain regular contacts with "the old country" and their relatives. They were those who actively supported Yugoslavia during the second World War and helped in the postwar reconstruction of the devastated old homeland.

 

The peoples of Yugoslavia and of the United States were held together in the most crucial years of this century, fighting as allies in the two World Wars. Our two countries were among the founding members of the United Nations organization after the second World War, and since have continuously promoted their traditionally friendly relations and mutual cooperation based on equality.

 

The celebration of the Bicentennial of the United States of America, in which our country is also taking part, offers us the opportunity to express once again our faith in further successful development of cooperation, notwithstanding some differences in views and stances.

 

The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, as a non-aligned country, has been striving to have respect for independence become the basic criterion of international behavior. This is the lasting principle of our foreign policy.

 

For more than 15 years, nonaligned countries have drawn attention to the deep roots of instability in the contemporary world. They have been exerting efforts toward finding solutions to acute world problems and further consolidating forces desiring active peaceful coexistence and relaxation of tensions in international relations.

 

Yugoslavia has pledged itself to the easing of tensions beyond the narrow framework of big-power relations, so as to encompass all regions and all spheres of international relations. The existing hotbeds of crisis, which can at any moment become a source of new conflicts, should be eliminated as a matter of urgency, in conformity with the charter and relevant resolutions of the United Nations.

 

We have reached a historic watershed on the road of creating new constructive and humane political and economic relations among nations, relations that would make it possible for mankind to live without apprehension for their future, to develop without constraints utilizing all achievements created by the human mind.

 

We in Yugoslavia are highly appreciative of and admire the progress made in science and technology and accomplishments in other spheres of creativity in the U.S. These impressive results become eventually a common property of mankind. We hope that in the future the United States of America will contribute even more to overall human progress, to life in peace and freedom.

 

In extending our best wishes to the American people on this great Bicentennial occasion, we should like to wish also for further promotion of cooperation and strengthening of friendship between the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the United States of America.

 

Time 23.8.1976.

 

 

 

Several thousand visit Tito's grave

 

 

Several thousand people visited Josip Broz Tito's grave to celebrate his birthday Tuesday in a sign of the sentimentality many feel about the Yugoslav communist dictator 30 years after his death. Tito's admirers flocked in from all over former Yugoslavia, the ethnically-diverse federation he skillfully steered through the Cold War era, but which broke up in brutal warfare only a decade after Tito died in 1980.

 

The Yugoslav wars of the 1990s -- the most brutal conflicts in Europe since World War II -- pitted regions and ethnic groups against one another, killed about 120,000 people and split the federation into seven parts. Carrying Tito's pictures, former Yugoslavia flags and symbols, the late leader's admirers sang Communist-era songs at his memorial center in a residential Belgrade area on Tuesday, trying to evoke the long-gone times they now view with nostalgia.

 

"Belgrade was an important political center in the world during Tito's era," said one of the visitors who identified himself as a retired general. Milorad Radulovic, a Serb who lives in Stockholm, Sweden, told the Beta news agency that he comes every year to "honor the man who provided me and my family with a carefree childhood and a good life."

 

Although Tito ruled Yugoslavia with a heavy hand for decades and is widely viewed as a dictator, he also allowed some freedoms to his citizens -- such as open travel -- that other eastern European nations under the Communists did not enjoy.

 

Many also credit Tito with keeping the country out of the Soviet grip, while securing for the good ties with the West and substantial financial support that provided for relative prosperity at home.

 

This, combined with the breakup of the country and today's widespread poverty, has led many to believe the Tito era was better than the present. It has also led to an increased public fascination with Tito's lifestyle, including a cook book about his favorite recipes and an exhibition of his private photo collection.

 

In the former Yugoslavia, Tito's birthday on May 25 was celebrated by having relay runners carry a baton for weeks and hand it to him on his birthday.

 

On Tuesday, admirers gave a baton to Tito's grandson, Joska Broz.

 

"They have no one else to turn to," he said.

 

By Jovana Gec

 

Associated Press 25.5.2010.

 

 

 

Marshal Tito makes historic visit to London



Marshal Josef Tito of Yugoslavia has arrived in Britain, the first Communist head of state to visit the country.

 

The Duke of Edinburgh, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden greeted him at Westminster at the start of his five-day visit.

He arrived by sea from Yugoslavia in the naval vessel Galeb (Seagull). He was then brought up river under Royal Navy escort.

 

Marshal Tito was invited to Britain last September by Mr Eden who was visiting Yugoslavia to strengthen ties between the two nations.

 

Talks this week are expected to centre on the aftermath of the recent death of Josef Stalin, who expelled Yugoslavia from the Cominform group of communist nations in 1948 for failing to adhere to Soviet policies.

 

Since that time Yugoslavia has come to rely on Western aid for certain foods and armaments.

 

They will also discuss ways of achieving a solution to the problem of the disputed region of Trieste, whose administration was divided last year between the United Nations and Yugoslavia.

 

Tight security

 

Security was tight as the occasion has been marked by a great deal of controversy, especially among those Yugoslav exiles who regard Marshal Tito as a dictator.

 

Spectators were kept well away from the River Thames embankment where the marshal disembarked this afternoon.

 

He shook hands with the Duke and made a short speech in faltering English greeting the people of Britain and expressing hope of mutual co-operation, understanding and peace.

 

"I wish to assure the peoples of Great Britain that they should consider the people of my country as their staunch allies because the people of the new Yugoslavia are striving towards the same ends as the people of Great Britain," he said.

 

He then inspected the Guard of Honour and was taken in a bullet-proof car escorted by police motorcyclists to Downing Street.

 

Later in the afternoon he laid a wreath at the Cenotaph and saluted Britain's war dead.

 

BBC 16.3.1953.

 

 

Tito's Epochal Funeral

 

 

A moving event, and then the question—who, or what, could replace him?  Hundreds of thousands of Yugoslavs lined the streets and hillsides of Belgrade for a glimpse of the long cortege bearing the body of the man who had led their country for 3½ decades. Wizened veterans of his partisan campaign during World War II, wearing rows of medals, let tears stream down their faces. Middle-aged housewives who had never known any other national leader put their arms tenderly around their children's shoulders and sobbed into handkerchiefs. Groups of schoolchildren, reared on his all-embracing national legend, waved small Yugoslav flags with awe in their eyes. At the edge of the crowd, a youth knelt on an open newspaper, clasped his hands and moved his lips in silent prayer. "He was somebody very close, like in my own family," said Nikola Margis, 68, a craftsman with a white mustache, who had waited for ten hours to pay his respects at the lying-in-state. "For 35 years we lived together, and we had only good things from him."

 

The state funeral for Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito last week was the most emotional that Europe had experienced in a decade, unrivaled since the memorial Mass for Charles de Gaulle at Paris' Notre Dame Cathedral in 1970. In attendance was a comparably vast assemblage of statesmen and royalty. It was a reflection of Tito's unique global role that his funeral attracted leaders from both East and West blocs, and from the Third World, in almost equal numbers. Official mourners came from 123 countries: four Kings, 32 Presidents and other heads of state, 22 Prime Ministers, more than 100 secretaries or representatives of Communist or workers parties. Tanjug, the official Yugoslav news agency, summed it up simply: "The summit of mankind."

 

Conspicuously absent from this summit was Jimmy Carter. In a decision that appalled many Western allies and annoyed some Yugoslavs, the President stayed home and instead sent a delegation headed by Vice President Walter Mondale. The official U.S. mourning party of 25 included Treasury Secretary G. William Miller and the President's mother Lillian, as well as low-level politicians from Mondale's home state of Minnesota. "I don't think we have anything to apologize for," said a ranking U.S. diplomat defensively, adding that "Mondale is a major figure."

 

The lowly and the mighty watched solemnly as eight military officers in braided dress uniforms appeared at the door of the Federal Assembly Building adjoining Marx and Engels Square carrying Tito's pale oak coffin. As distant cannons boomed out 21-salvo salutes, the casket was placed on an open gun carriage and covered with the blue, white and red Yugoslav flag. A military band struck up a funeral dirge, Yugoslav air force jets screeched overhead, and a jeep drew the carriage slowly along six-lane Kneza Milosa. Behind the casket, sobbing and dressed in black, was Tito's third wife, Jovanka, 56, who had dropped from public view three years ago amid rumors of a falling-out with the President. Next to her were Tito's two sons by two previous marriages, Zarko, 56, and Miso, 39.

 

Two hours and 2½ miles later, the cortege reached the grounds of Tito's principal residence at 15 Uzicka Street, in the hilltop suburb of Dedinje overlooking the capital. He had asked to be buried there. To the strains of the Internationale, the coffin was placed above ground in a white marble vault bearing a stark inscription in raised gold letters: JOSIP BROZ TITO, 1892-1980. He had died just three days before his 88th birthday.

 

The two little-known men who automatically succeeded Tito in his two national posts—Communist Party Chairman Stevan Doronjski, 60, and State President Lazar Koliševski, 66—eulogized their predecessor profusely. Said Koliševski at graveside: "You have left in your wake one of the deepest traces that a man can imprint upon history." Doronjski praised Tito's dramatic break with the Soviet Union in 1948 as "one of the turning points in the history of our movement," which ever since, he said, has resisted "tying itself to any power bloc."

Listening impassively nearby was Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev, who commanded most attention among the visiting dignitaries. In a surprise move, Brezhnev decided to attend the funeral at the head of a phalanx of East European delegations. For the Soviets, Tito suddenly appeared to have attained a saintliness he had never enjoyed when alive.

 

Moscow had wasted no time in trying to get on the good side of the post-Tito government. On the eve of the funeral, Brezhnev and his Kremlin party sat down with Doronjski and Koliševski for what Tass, the Soviet news agency, called a "warm, comradely" meeting. China, which under Mao Tse-tung had long condemned Tito's "revisionism," similarly acted almost as though it had never differed with him. The first major head of government to arrive in Belgrade was Chairman Hua Guofeng, who grandly praised Tito for "great contributions to the proletarian revolution." At the gravesite, Hua and Brezhnev glanced fleetingly at each other, but never spoke.

 

When the rites were over, the inevitable question lingered: After Tito, what? For months, Western leaders had barely disguised their apprehension that possible instability following Tito's death could inspire the Soviets to try to regain control over a onetime satellite that had escaped Moscow's orbit. But on the surface, at least, calm and order prevailed.

 

Even as he lay dying, the cumbersome machinery of succession he had devised to provide an orderly transition of power went into effect. Koliševski, a Macedonian and longtime Tito loyalist, chaired Cabinet and other government meetings. Koliševski was acting as one of the first beneficiaries of the "collective leadership" plan incorporated into Yugoslavia's 1974 constitution. This plan established a state presidency of eight regional and presumably equal members, who are supposed to rotate as chairmen each year. Tito also set up a companion 24-member system for the party Presidium, the highest body of the Yugoslav League of Communists. Its chairmanship is currently occupied by Doronjski, a Serb from Vojvodina province, whose term runs until October.


Koliševski is due to leave the state presidency on May 16. He should be succeeded by another little-known figure, Bosnian Representative Cvijetin Mijatović, 67, a conservative party functionary who earned Tito's trust as Ambassador to Moscow from 1961 to 1965. In Belgrade, however, there was speculation that either Koliševski's term might be extended to provide an additional period of continuity, or else the rotation order might be changed to allow the election of the collective presidency's best-known public figure: Vladimir Bakarić, 68. He is the last of Tito's close wartime comrades still in power, currently heading the Federal  Council for the Defense of the Constitution, the important agency that oversees the internal security apparatus. Promoting Bakarić out of turn might provide the country with a respected transitional leader. It would also imply that the Yugoslavs have less than full confidence in the main principle of the collective leadership—namely, that no one man can succeed Tito.

 

In a recent speech, Presidium Secretary Dušan Dragosavac warned against any machinations by aspiring Titici—Serbian for Little Titos. Nevertheless, a power struggle is expected to develop eventually among an inner circle of top party leaders. Among them: General Nikola Ljubičič, 64, a short, powerfully built Serb, was also a wartime comrade of Tito's. The senior member of the Cabinet, he has served as Defense Minister since 1967. Stane Dolanc, 54, a tough, Stane Dolanc, 54, a tough, widely traveled Central Committee member from Slovenia who is considered by some to be the party's ablest and most ambitious behind-the-scenes politician. Miloš Minić, 65, a Serb who, as Foreign Minister from 1972 to 1979, was responsible for policy toward the Soviet Union and became the party's chief foreign policy strategist.

 

Whatever their personal rivalries, the country's new leaders are not expected to clash over ideology or basic policy. They are all Tito loyalists, committed to his basic principles: a federal political system for maintaining Yugoslavia's national unity, the unique system of worker self-management of factories that characterizes the country's maverick brand of Marxism, and strict nonalignment between East and West. Says one French diplomat: "The country's leadership and people will unite at the slightest hint of Soviet menace."

 

Most experts dismiss the possibility that the Soviets, especially since Afghanistan, would be so imprudent as to undertake any direct invasion of Yugoslavia. An invading force from the Soviet Union, which would require 35 or more divisions, totaling more than 300,000 men, would have to take on a large-scale fight not only against the well-equipped 259,000-man Yugoslav army but also against the 3 million-member partisan militia. In addition, there would be the risk of causing a confrontation with the Western allies.


The serious threat to Yugoslavia is likely to be more internal than external. The country is a patchwork of six nationalistic republics—plus two so-called autonomous provinces—that have their own languages, religions and cultures. The Soviets might try to exploit the traditional hostility between the Serbs and the Croats; together they constitute more than 60% of Yugoslavia's 22 million people. Another potential trouble spot is the southern province of Kosovo, the country's poorest region, where friction is developing between Serbs and the rapidly exploding ethnic Albanian population. Two months ago, 50 ethnic Albanians in Kosovo were charged with fomenting political unrest. This could conceivably serve as a Soviet pretext for stirring up trouble in Yugoslavia, as could the thinly disguised Bulgarian claims on Macedonia, the country's southernmost republic.

 

The country's uneven economy could work either for or against stability. On the one hand, the industrial and urban transformations wrought by Tito have had a cohesive influence. "People have been concentrating on a better standard of living instead of hating their neighbors," says a Western diplomat in Belgrade. But a severe economic downturn could aggravate the glaring inequities, and consequent animosities, between the developed northern republics like Slovenia and hinterlands like Kosovo. Lately the economy has been ailing. Unemployment, estimated at more than 13%, is growing. The current annual inflation rate is estimated at 35%, compared with 14% in 1978. Productivity has slowed, and workers, under the self-management system, have voted themselves inflationary wage increases. Worst of all, the country's trade deficit has ballooned in a year by more than 40%, to $6.4 billion, caused mostly by oil and consumer goods imports.

 

But in the end it will be up to the Yugoslav leaders to secure the country's future. They have all the effective levers of power in their hands, including the apparent loyalty of the army. They appear to have taken every conceivable precaution against subversion. One haunting question remains: Who or what could replace Tito's towering personality? The answer to that question will determine not only the future of Yugoslavia, but possibly the shape of Europe for years to come.


Time 19.5.1980.

 

 

 

My mum calls me Marshal Tito!

 

 

Didier Drogba learned about being a leader of men from a young age - when his mother dubbed him Tito.

 

Clotilde was a huge fan of Yugoslavia's legendary communist leader who stood up to the Soviet Union and chose to go it alone during the Cold War.

 

It was Marshal Tito's fighting spirit and bravery that she loved and those were the values she wanted to instil in her son when she gave him the nickname.

 

Clotilde said: "When I was pregnant with Didier there was this general who was the leader of Yugoslavia, Marshal Tito, that I appreciated a lot for his values and perseverance.

 

"I loved him a lot because of his fighting spirit and that's why we called Didier Tito."

  

It is the perseverance that Tito showed as leader of Yugoslavia that inspired Drogba, now 31, to stick with football when things were going against him.

 

Aged 11, after a financial crisis hit the Ivory Coast, Drogba moved to France with uncle Michael Goba, a journeyman pro footballer.

 

Parents Clotilde and Albert didn't join him until he was 13 - and the first thing they did was ban him from playing football for a year.

 

That was because Didier was in danger of becoming a tearaway and, when he was forced to repeat a year in school, his parents acted swiftly.

 

A few years later, aged 17, he spent another year away from football - this time breaking a foot in a training-ground accident when at Levallois.

 

The Ivory Coast hitman had to wait until he was 25 to make his breakthrough with Marseille before a £24million switch to Chelsea made him a global star.

 

Now Drogba is revered in his native land and gets mobbed everywhere he goes. It was he who tried to make the population see sense when civil war broke out before the 2006 World Cup. Addressing his nation Drogba said in a televised message: "Ivorians from the north, south, centre and west can live together if we can play together.

 

"Please, we are the only African country with all that richness. We can't go to war like that. Please put down your arms."

 

Drogba admitted he was embarrassed because instead of saying "east" he said "centre." He explained: "I didn't write it, I just improvised. I said Ivorians of the north and south and the centre and the west, ha ha... "

 

Things are different in the Ivory Coast nowadays. He told RTL radio station in France: "It's really special to go back home. But it's not easy for me to go on the streets, it's virtually impossible.

 

"At the beginning I struggled to accept it but now I can understand a bit more the reaction of the people."

 

But, unlike his mother's hero Tito, Drogba has no intention of becoming president of the Ivory Coast, although he would probably win by a landslide.

 

He said: "No, no I don't want to become president. I am happy the way I am. I have the opportunity to be heard. I like this neutral side where I can say what I think and express the sentiments of my team-mates.

 

"At that moment the players all felt we had to say something. It didn't stop the war but at least it made many people ask some questions."

 

Drogba has had a few nightmares on the pitch as well, among them the Champions League final against Manchester United in Moscow last year.

 

He joked: "I also lost the UEFA Cup final with Marseille and the final of the African Nations Cup. I don't know who the black cat is, I hope it's not me.

 

"It's very difficult at such a high level to get to the final. Sometimes you need a bit of luck to get success."

 

Drogba, who set up both of Chelsea's goals in the 2-0 win against Liverpool on Sunday, insisted he has no plans to retire any time soon.

 

As a latecomer to top-level football he wants to prolong his career for many more seasons and still has the hunger for success despite winning many trophies in his five years at Chelsea.

 

He said: "I don't set limits for myself. I don't know if I was lucky but I started at the highest level very late, at 25 years old. I feel fresh, I only need to run, score goals to feel pleasure.

 

"I don't know when I will quit or set limits. Perhaps the day I feel tired.

"I didn't have a career path like Thierry Henry or Nico Anelka. It had its advantages and its inconveniences but, well, I'm happy.

 "If I'd gone to a youth development centre I could have been better technically. I think it's a plus to go to a development centre for your players.

 

"I worked very hard of course afterwards. But the older you are the more difficult it can be to learn to do certain things."

 

The man who stands out in Drogba's career will always be former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho.

 

The Ivorian hitman admits he would have risked breaking his legs playing for the Special One but was not happy with one of the successors Luiz Felipe Scolari who dropped Drogba - a decision that cost the Brazilian his job.

 

He said: "Mourinho is somebody very strong tactically but mainly from the psychological side. He knows how to get through to the players.

 

"I remember sometimes I would talk to him and say 'Why are you giving me two days off even though we have a match in a few days?' And he said that my rest was mostly psychological.

 

"That means you can cut yourself off for a couple of days and you rest and you're mentally well and you come back fresh. The mental side is 90 per cent of football. The players are with him absolutely. He gives you everything.

 

"He says 'Do what you want, with me you can do what you want. But on the pitch you give me everything. You don't betray me. I give you everything you want, I give you days off but you must be performing on the pitch.'

 

"He would come and tell you if you had a bad game that you didn't play well but the next match if you played well he'd also come to say 'For me you were man of the match.'

 

"I loved him because he made me progress as a player. I was ready to break my legs for him.

 

"For Scolari also but I didn't have the chance. Football is like that."

 

Antony Kastrinakis

 

The Sun 7.10.2009.

 

 

 

A man who made impossible thing happened

 

 

This article is about a charismatic man who kept Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Slovenia, Macedonia and Monte Negro united in one strong country - Yugoslavia for more than 40 years.

Many people from former Yugoslav Republic will argue about his good influence, but there are also many still mourning him and Yugoslavia.

Me? I was too young when he died to do either of these things. But, learning in school about him (history books have changed historical facts in meantime) and talking to people older than me, I came to one conclusion: he was a great man that wouldn't band his head in front of anybody, even world leaders.

 

 

 

Basic facts about Josip Broz Tito

 

Origin, birth, function, death...

 

 

Josip Broz Tito was born May 7, 1892 in Kumrovec, Croatia (May 25 according to official birth certificate) and died May 4, 1980. He was the leader of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from 1945 until his death in 1980.

During World War II, Tito organized the anti-fascist resistance movement known as the Yugoslav Partisans. Later he was a founding member of Cominform, but resisted Soviet influence and became one of the founders and promoters of the Non-Aligned Movement.

 

 

 

Biography - Josip Broz Tito

 

 

He rose from humble origins to dominate his fractious nation for over 40 years. Alone among Eastern-Bloc leaders, he refused to bow to Russia's every whim, earning him the wary respect of both East and West. Josip Broz Tito was a communist maverick. While relying on Soviet support, he refused to be Moscow's puppet, and he shaped a nation that escaped some of the worst of the troubles that other Soviet satellites experienced.

 

 

 

Things he did that took a lots of courage

 

and good will

 

 

Although he made mistakes (who hasn't?), here is the list of things he did well by others:

 

Under his leadership, there was no wars on Balkan for more than 40 years.

 

He was the one that said 'NO!' to Stalin. Stalin took it personally - for once, to no avail. "Stop sending people to kill me", Tito wrote. "If you don't stop sending killers, I'll send one to Moscow, and I won't have to send a second."

 

Under Tito's leadership, Yugoslavia became a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement. In 1961, Tito co-founded the movement with Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser, India's Jawaharlal Nehru, Indonesia's Sukarno and Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah, in an action called The Initiative of Five (Tito, Nehru, Nasser, Sukarno, Nkrumah), thus establishing strong ties with third world countries.

 

Tito's greatest strength, had been in suppressing nationalist insurrections and maintaining unity throughout the country. It was Tito's call for unity, and related methods, that held together the people of Yugoslavia.

 

 

 

Litle Known Facts on Tito's Yugoslavia:

 

 

* Under Tito's leadership, Yugoslavia had fifth strongest army in Europe.

* Tito's administration did unite a country that had been severely affected by the war and successfully suppressed the nationalist sentiments of the peoples of Yugoslavia in favor of the common Yugoslav goal.

* Yugoslavia, for communist country, became by far the most religiously liberal among the socialist states, since Tito believed that oppression only makes religion spread.

* Tito supported a crucial bill about "self-management" (samoupravljanje): a type of independent socialism that experimented with profit sharing with workers in state-run enterprises - it was the basis of the entire social order in Yugoslavia.

* Yugoslavia was the first communist country to open its borders to all foreign visitors and abolish visa requirements.

 

 

 

Little known facts - Tito's life

 

* He had 3 wives and lot's of mistresses. One mistress he loved that much that after she died of tuberculosis in 1946, Tito insisted that she be buried in the backyard of the Beli Dvor, his Belgrade residence.

* Tito spoke four languages in addition to his native Serbo-Croatian, Macedonian and Slovene: Czech, German, Russian, and English.

* As the leader of the communist resistance, Tito was a target for the Axis forces in occupied Yugoslavia. The Germans came close to capturing or killing Tito on at least three occasions: in the 1943 "Case White" (Fall Weiss) offensive; in the subsequent "Case Black" (Fall Schwarz) offensive, in which he was wounded on 9 June, being saved only because his loyal dog sacrificed himself; and on 25 May 1944, when he barely managed to evade the Germans after their "Operation Knight's Leap" (Unternehmen Rösselsprung) airdrop outside his Drvar headquarters.

 

   

Tito's Foreign Policy

 

 

Tito was notable for pursuing a foreign policy of neutrality during the Cold War and for establishing close ties with developing countries. Tito's strong belief in self-determination caused early rift with Stalin and consequently, the Eastern Bloc. His public speeches often reiterated that policy of neutrality and cooperation with all countries is natural as long as these countries are not using their influence to pressure Yugoslavia to take sides. Relations with the United States and Western European nations were generally cordial.

Yugoslavia had a liberal travel policy permitting foreigners to freely travel through the country and its citizens to travel worldwide. This was limited by most Communist countries. A number of Yugoslav citizens worked throughout Western Europe.

 

 

 

Tito's Stand on Bosnia...

 

... which unfortunately became truth after he died.

 

 

"Let that man be a Bosnian, Herzegovinian. Outside they don't call you by another name, except simply a Bosnian. Whether that be a Muslim (Bosniak), Serb or Croat. Everyone can be what they feel that they are, and no one has a right to force a nationality upon them."

"Bosnia and Herzegovina was once a seed of division between the Croat and Serb people. Officials in Zagreb and Belgrade brought forth decisions on Bosnia-Herzegovina - decisions involving its wealth and decisions to exploit the country even more; but they didn't care about what their decisions would do to the people living in Bosnia-Herzegovina. They, for the sake of achieving their goals, pitted one people against the other."

"During the war, a battle was fought here, not only for the creation of a new Yugoslavia, but also a battle for Bosnia and Herzegovina as a sovereign republic. To some generals and leaders their position on this was not quite clear. I never once doubted my stance on Bosnia. I always said that Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot belong to this or that, only to the people that lived there since the beginning of time."

 

SQUIDWHO

 

 

 

The City Council refused the initiative for changing the square’s name

 

 

The special committee which decides the names of areas, streets and squares refused the initiative for changing the name of Trg marsala Tita. All the members voted against the idea. The initiative came from the Croatian Helsinki Committee, the rectors of the University of Zagreb and from the Association called Circle for the square. There were several options we got and all the proposals were acceptable. However, there are many particular reasons why the name of the square shouldn’t be changed – the president of the committee Marin Knezovic reported. The tradition of its name has been 61 years long and that’s also one of the reasons.

 

In this case Marsal Tito represents the antifascist movement and Tito’s role in it, and these are the foundations on which Croatia has been built- Knezovic added.

 

The members of the committee also added that similar initiatives usually appeared in the times of parliamentary elections. 

 

I agree that changing of the 61-year-old name is out of question. We owe Marsal Tito for what we have today as he had put our country on the victory side and when this problem starts appearing again and again, it is always in the time of elections - the member of the committee Stjepan Makovic said. 

 

Dalje.com 8.12.2011.

 

 

 

Makers of the Twentieth Century: Tito

 

In 1945 Tito wrote. ‘We mean to make Yugoslavia both democratic and independent’. How was this possible, asks Basil Davidson, for a war-torn Communist country in a world of super-powers? When Josip Broz-Tito died in Belgrade last May, full of years and well content, there passed from the scene a legendary hero who was also a man with a most practical impact on the politics of our century. Bearing witness to this impact more than to the legend, presidents and prime ministers and princes gathered at his funeral in an array such as no small Power had known before. Dying, as convinced a Communist as ever, the man himself was would have greeted the gesture with the careful smile he reserved for good news. He had survived fearful years and outfaced immense hostilities. No, with his death, spokesmen of the wide world paid homage to his wisdom, even those from governments or regimes of virulent past enmity (whether in West or East), and joined to hail him as a crucial figure of our time.

 

The ironies of this could well deserve a smile. History will enjoy discussing them, but they are evident even with the earth still fresh upon his garden-grave at Dedinje. When, for our part, the British first took notice of Tito’s name, at some point around the middle of 1942, it was no more than a cipher launched in broadcasts by a station called Free Yugoslavia that was known to British Intelligence as being situated in Russia, and probably in Moscow. And when, in 1943, our liaison teams began dropping to Tito’s men in Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia and other regions of that embattled land, the assumption was that Tito, whoever he might really be, was firmly within the arena of Soviet obedience and accompanied by Soviet staffs. Otherwise his isolation and obscurity appeared as complete as his Muscovite alignment.

 

But then we learned that the truth was far less simple. For one thing, the isolation was much greater than we had thought. No Soviet staffs were found in any place; none in fact would come until long after the British arrival. That Tito and his men were thoroughly committed to Communism, with the Soviet Union as their hero, was immediately clear; and they made it obvious from the start. And yet here too there were puzzling complexities. The style and tone of Tito's movement, as of Tito himself (with whom my own first encounter was during August, 1943 in central Bosnia), had about them an insistent air of independence. Even in those early weeks, when our suspicions of them were as deep as theirs of us, it was hard to think of them as anyone's puppets. The real independence was in fact more profound than we could then know. The reasons for it came out in due course. They have formed the history of Tito's Yugoslavia.

 

Orthodox opinion in the West long continued to see Tito as little more than Moscow's agent. It was an understandable - or at least unsurprising – misjudgement in those years of Cold War fantasy and panic that followed upon the peace. Here was a man, post-war biographies rapidly explained, who had joined the Bolsheviks in the storms of the October Revolution (having got to Russia as a conscript in the army of Austro-Hungary, an Empire which enclosed his homeland of Croatia), and who, having long served the Comintern during the inter-war years, had become the leader of the Yugoslav Communist Party at a time when Stalin's direct consent was certainly required. 'With his country invaded by the Axis powers in 1941, Tito had begun to organise for insurrection before Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union and would, as the evidence suggests, have launched it even without that invasion. The fact remained that he had launched it, in the event, on instructions from the Comintern. How could the West trust anyone with that kind of record?

 

The answer proved indigestible, but had to be absorbed in the end. For it came to be seen that the singularity of Tito, however long disbelieved, lay precisely in the fact that he was determined and able to transform a narrow Moscow loyalty into the broad patriotism of a movement of liberation. Later, it came to be seen that the logic of his break with Stalin and the 'Cominform' of 1948 was not a new one, but had been foretold in a wartime break with sectarian politics; and that this wartime break, however partial, formed the central reason why the partisan struggle could be sustained and won. And it is there, in Tito's politics of liberation, that one can find keys to a large puzzle of the second half of our century: the end of monolithic Communism and the beginning of 'polycentric revolutions' of the Marxist Left.

 

This complex truth was part of a process gradually revealed. Was it only opportunism? It could seem so, for Tito desperately needed military aid which, to our astonishment, the Russians were not providing and which we British, as it turned out, could alone provide. Marching through Bosnia in the autumn of 1943, I found myself called to speak at public meetings whose bannered slogans hailed 'Our allies, England, America and the Soviet Union' – and in that order of precedence. A partisan choir asked me to teach them God Save the King, and they sang it as lustily as their revolutionary anthems. It could be opportunism.

 

But gradually, as we lived through the extraordinary epic of the partisan war, we came to see that it must, in any case, be more than opportunism. Stalin, as we know now, warned Tito several times against 'frightening the Allies' – but Tito, as we also know, paid small attention to these radio messages from Moscow. His motives for an early and, as yet, quite undefined non-alignment were different – and deeper. They derived from the dynamics of the war itself. For this was a war that had long outgrown the initial phase of insurrection against the invaders and their local puppets or allies. By the time of our arrival, tardy enough as this proved to be, the liberation movement had become an all-Yugoslav uprising fortified by a powerful mobile army, by countless local militias, and by an intensive network of civilian self-administration. It drew strength from all six major and several lesser nationalities of Yugoslavia, the only exception being the local Germans (Volksdeutsche ) who were nearly all Nazis; and, although peasant in its majority, it contained men and women from every community and class.

 

This kind of war of liberation, as all the abundant evidence of our century has tended to confirm, cannot be sustained and won with any narrow programme or sectarian vision. It needs the strong sense and conviction of social renewal linked to national pride, of revolution coupled with cultural resurgence, of a moral development capable of evoking programmes of political and economic change. Here in wartime Yugoslavia it became evident that the multitudes who joined their life and loyalty to Tito's movement wanted to free their country from a ruthless enemy but also wanted to free themselves from their own past – and these two desires were inseparable. They asked for a different future. They wanted equality and justice as well as national freedom. It was impossible to live among these people for long without perceiving these truths, and without coming to accept, no matter how ambiguous the evidence might often seem, that these were truths which shaped a central conclusion: the demand for active and responsible participation in every field of public life. These people meant to evict their enemies; they also meant to rule themselves. That an effective response could be found to this dual and difficult demand was the work of Tito and the movement which he led and steered. Yet to make this response the Yugoslav Communists had to grow out of their sectarian infancy. They found this very hard, but broadly they achieved it. They must otherwise have perished.

 

Their people belonged to a peculiar national history. Yugoslavia had emerged in 1919 as the 'triune kingdom' of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Capped by a monarchy, this new country of the 'South Slavs' had the form of a parliamentary democracy. But the democracy was fragile. Soon these Croats, Slovenes, Bosnians, Macedonians and other 'forbidden nationalities' of the old empires were subject to a royal supremacy which increasingly became a narrow Serbian dictatorship. This fall into autocracy was scarcely surprising at the time. It was after all the fate of each of the newly- independent countries of central and eastern Europe after 1918, Czechoslovakia only excepted. Ruled by small groups of self-appointed 'beneficiaries', they came increasingly under the influence of external Powers. Not exactly 'neo-colonies' – a convenient label not then available – they were the victims of a situation which bred bad government, corruption and increasing violence. The term 'Balkan' ceased in those inter-war years to be merely geographical. It be- came a badge of misery and abuse.

 

That is a simplified picture, but its essential truth was amply confirmed by the fearful disasters of 1941. In April of that year the Nazis sent their armies over the Hungarian and Bulgarian frontiers into Yugoslavia, and the armies of their allies – Fascist Italy, Bulgaria, Hungary – across the same or other frontiers. Within a fortnight the country was submerged in ruin, its armed forces were in rout or disbanded, and its king and government in flight abroad. But worse followed. Civil war came hard upon defeat. Organised in a local fascist movement, Croat Catholics set about the wild massacre of Bosnian Muslims and Orthodox Serbs; and one huge work of slaughter led on ferociously to another. More than a million-and-a-half Yugoslavs were killed in 1941-45; but the grimmest truth about this figure is that very many of these, perhaps most, were killed by other Yugoslavs.

 

These were the circumstances in which people fought for their very lives but also, as the fight continued, for a future that could bury these savage hatreds. That is why Tito's slogan, bratsva i jedinstva (brotherhood and unity), both epitomised the aims of the partisan war of liberation and achieved a power of attraction that nothing else, in the end, could seriously question or has seriously questioned since. Yet brotherhood and unity spelt out participation, and participation meant democracy. And this again is why Tito's party, no matter how great the mental and organisational obstacles, had to evolve or perish.

 

Its members were ill prepared for the challenge. Long persecution and Communist centralism had fostered habits of autocracy, attitudes of intolerance, suspicions of any who might argue. Now they were called to lead great multitudes of people whose voluntary adherence could be held and encouraged only by very different attitudes. Somehow they had to show that they could lead to peace and reconciliation as well as win battles. Only an inner transformation could encompass that.

 

History may agree, even if with reservations, that Tito's largest contribution to our century was that he saw this need for inner transformation well before others, and was able to launch it. While the wounds of fratricidal war sharpened hatred and intolerance, Tito set out to ensure that his party and movement were able to clear the ground for reconciliation. Out of this – though not without grim setbacks – there came a process of democratisation that was probably well launched by the middle of 1942, and certainly by the middle of 1943 when we British arrived at last upon the scene. From then onwards this process took increasing shape in networks of village, district and regional assemblies and executives of self-government and these were the roots of the system by which the Yugoslavs govern themselves today. Nothing in history can be taken as inevitable. Yet from then onwards an eventual break with Stalinist conceptions of rigid centralism was already immanent in whatever happened or was attempted.

 

Much happened, and much was attempted. A few aspects may be singled out. Each is a related aspect of the problems of 'brotherhood and unity'. First, there was the break with Stalin and then with Stalinist conceptions. There was the nature of the alternative system which began to be promoted then. Linked closely, there was Tito's handling of the 'national question' among Yugoslavia's persistently assertive nationalities. Along with these, there was Tito's drive for non-alignment as an international movement as well as a national posture.

 

The break with Moscow came in 1948 and was doubly painful, for it chafed with years of adulation of the Soviet Union and it raised the question of revolutionary legitimacy. It was also very dangerous, for it left Yugoslavia in terrible isolation and, as it was feared at the time, in grave peril of Soviet invasion. Yet the tradition and success of the independence struggle were such that the risks of this break were taken with a remarkable unanimity and even with enthusiasm. Stalin demanded obedience, not friendship; ready for the second, these Yugoslavs were determined not to yield the first. They had traced their own road during the war; they would continue to trace it now.

 

Their problem, then, was to secure aid from the West without falling into the Cold War obedience that the West, above all Washington, also wished to exact. Gradually, this problem was also solved, though not without some bitter moments, and then, after 1952, the beginnings of a specific and often very radical process of participation was launched and worked into everyday life. This process is known as samoupravlenje , perhaps best translated as 'self-government'.

 

Wages, work plans, all forms of material development, increasingly all forms of cultural and social development as well, become subject to discussion and decision which 'begin at the base'. How far this may work must of course depend to some extent on the frailties of human nature, as influential here as anywhere else: but the circumstances for its being able to work are what the new system set out to evolve and guarantee. In many ways sui generis , it is furthermore a system which could not have been conceived in theory, much less embodied in practice, without the background of the partisan movement. In this large sense, samoupravlenje is Tito's direct creation and legacy.

 

The policy proceeds in a country that is vastly different from the 'triune kingdom' of the inter-war years. That old Yugoslavia might be reasonably described as a semi-colony of ferocious discontents. Tito's Yugoslavia is a country that suffers from a bundle of economic and social ills, such as a gaping balance of payments deficit and the massive emigration of the unemployed to jobs in Germany. But it is also a country in which industrialisation and cultural expansion have marched together with a staunch independence of mind and policy. The fact that this is surrounded by argument and disputation is evidence of that particular truth. Much of the debate concerns everyday discontent with this or that failure, shortage, or bureaucratic blunder which are by no means peculiar to Yugoslavia. But much of it concerns the federal dispensation.

 

'We have solved the national question', Tito claimed in 1962 – and with reason. The old dictatorships, whether monarchist or Stalinist, became a distant memory. Progressively adapted to larger forms of autonomy, Yugoslavia consists of six republics and two sub-republics, each with great and increasing powers over their own administration, taxation, planning, cultural development, and indeed practically everything except foreign affairs and national security. Nowhere else has the basic concept of the monolithic nation-state received so effective a challenge.

 

Not everyone has been satisfied. These eight autonomous units within their federal frontiers have had a sometimes bumpy ride since the 1950s. Serbian nationalism has yearned for its past; Croatian nationalism has threatened secession; the Slovenes have attracted envy for their complacent wealth; the poor republics have pressed for a bigger share of the cake; while the process of decentralisation has produced a crop of errors due to inefficiency, exaggeration, or simple human folly. Tito had to rage and storm in tricky moments. Yet the general outcome and perspective still confirm Tito's claim. No matter what disputes may continue over language definitions, economic shares, or inter-republican finagling and sharp practice, the bloody hatreds of the pre-war years and of 1941 seem finally assuaged; and what holds these republics together can repeatedly be seen, as now in the wake of Tito's death, to be far more powerful than whatever may continue to divide them. The strong framework of national armed forces, still commanded by wartime veterans, no doubt guarantees this ultimate unity. The League of Communists, however much transformed from its old sectarianism, is also there to watch and guard. But the conflicts now are family quarrels even if they can still explode in angry words.

 

This great achievement, and undoubtedly it is one, has long had its reflection in another of Tito's principles of action: non-alignment in foreign policy. Continued loyalty to the concepts of the Soviet state could never have allowed the decentralisation on which the achievement rests; and to this extent it may be said that non-alignment was the only sensible course of action after the break with Stalinist concepts. Yet there is much to suggest that Tito him- self was long convinced of the value of a non-aligned policy. Even as early as November, 1945, with the din of battle barely stilled, he told me in a long- forgotten interview for The Times that,

 

We mean to make Yugoslavia both democratic and independent; and we shall take good care to cherish this independence. It is important for us and for our national development as peoples of a federated state. But it is also important to the great Powers...

 

Yugoslavia might have a natural and warm friendship with the Soviet Union, but

 

there is nothing exclusive about it. That would be against our policy and our wishes, and it might easily be suicidal. Good relations between the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia do not mean that Yugoslavia will lose her independence and become a satellite of the Soviet Union...

 

Just how far an exclusive friendship would be 'suicidal' became clear only three years later. When it did, this line of thought of 1945 – as of the later war- time years – led on to finding a way of escape from the hammer-and-anvil situation in which Yugoslavia then stood, with Moscow full of menace and with Washington by no means friendly.

 

So it was that Tito began to build a space 'between the blocs' where Yugoslavia need not be alone, but could be joined and therefore fortified by other countries which, for one reason or another, had to fear or face the same hammer-and-anvil posture. A certain reconciliation with Moscow occurred in 1956, with the Khrushchev 'thaw', but without seriously reawakening the West's earlier suspicions. Yet Tito, who put no faith in great-Power favours, persevered with non-alignment. On a programme of co-existence, disarmament, and conciliation through UN agencies, he set out to tour the world, especially the ex-colonial world, wherever hammer- and-anvil situations hurt the most. For this role he was singularly well placed and well prepared. He could speak with the prestige of a small but powerful country whose real independence was unquestioned, and one, moreover, which itself had only lately emerged from a more or less colonial condition. He put forth his personal vigour and conviction to persuade and combine a whole galaxy of leaders such as Gamal-Abdel Nasser, and he had some notable success. By 1968 he had visited more than thirty leaders or governments, and, always strong on organisation, had pressed successfully for systematic ways in which a worldwide movement of non-alignment could acquire form and presence. As early as 1961, for example, he was able to preside over an initial conference of the non-aligned countries to which twenty- three governments sent their leading men. A second such conference, this time in Cairo, attracted as many as forty- seven governments; and the movement has continued to grow.

 

The policy has served Yugoslavia well, giving its government an influence and weight in world affairs which are now accepted both by East and West. How far the non-aligned movement can develop further, other than in keeping a clear space of co-existence between the blocs, is another matter. With members as widely divergent in their policies and loyalties as Zaire at one end and Cuba at the other, 'non-alignment' has become somewhat of a victim of its own success. Yet Tito could still have argued with conviction that the policy he fathered had proved a valid one, and another contribution to the keeping of the peace.

 

The man himself had all the charm and charisma of a great commander who never asks of others what he will not do himself, and combines authority with an acute interest in people and an irresistible sense of homour. Did he still believe in any general future for Communism? Almost certainly the answer is affirmative. However, Tito was never a man to embark on the squaring of theoretical circles. The springs of his practical genius derived, rather, from a vivid and profound sense of historical reality. Even with all that had occurred, he persistently saw the needs and possibilities of his time and place – and he could lead his fellow-countrymen into doing what they had not done, or even thought of doing, at any time before.

 

Men and women followed him through mortal dangers because he had found the way to epitomise, for them, the destiny that had to be found. His authority came from the successes of the partisan struggle, but it also came – and this is another statement of the same thing – from his sheer demands of self-sacrifice and the serving of the common interest. People grow under such demands when these are felt to be intensely right; and people love the leaders who thus make them grow, and gain a new dignity, and a new human worth. That is how it was with Josip Broz-Tito.

 

Dr Basil Davidson specialises in the history of Africa and eastern Europe and is the author of Special Operations Europe, recently published by Gollancz. 

 

By Basil Davidson

 

History Today Volume: 30 Issue 10 1980 2001 

 

 

 

 

The contradiction of Yugoslavia

 

  

Yugoslavia is a contradiction: communist, yet a free society.

 

The explanation is that it is no longer purely communist, yet there are anomalies which westerners would regard as serious limitations of freedom. Above all, Yugoslavia is highly self-disciplined.

 

Its system of self-management and decentralisation defies accurate comparison. One might be tempted to think Yugoslavia as westernised as, say, Italy; but the League of Communists still plays the leading role, and it pays to belong to the Party.

 

While Yugoslavs would not accept Kremlin communism, they do not want a society based on private capital. Nor do they admire British democracy — with its party whips and an Opposition dedicated to overthrowing the Government — or the American system with its wheeling and dealing, remote from ordinary people.

 

In theory, the League of Communists is divorced from the State. In fact all the Federal and Republic Ministers and leading functionaries are Party members. The Party no longer issues directives; it lays down principles upon which Government should act. Government will argue tactics but would no more think of going against the Party view than the Irish Government would condemn advice from Rome.

 

It is essential to be a Party member if one wishes to become a Minister, almost essential for election to the assemblies, and essential in an army officer and among diplomats. The directors of most factories and institutions are members.

 

On the other hand, on the ordinary level, Party membership is a matter of choice, and it is easy to leave. If a factory director is a paid-up card-carrier, his chief engineer is likely not to be. The Macedonian information ministry representative who drove me around was not a member. Nor are many professors.

 

More important is the trend of reducing government interference at almost every level. This and decentralisation are so advanced that many communists are trying to restore some sort of central influence.

 

They do not, however, necessarily want a return to Soviet communism (although there is a "Cominformist" faction which would like centrally controlled ideological principles), but rather some sense of Yugoslav national policy to bring together the fiercely independent trends which self-management creates.

 

There is, too, the natural strain between progressives and conservatives, between rich and poor. The rich north subsidises the often extremely poor south. Concepts of left and right become muddled.

 

Marshal Tito, who is both a progressive and a conservative, presides over the pushing and shoving with monarchical prestige.

 

The dividing line between Party power and civic independence is difficult to draw. Many Yugoslavs claim that they have achieved their revolution so that Party membership is less and less important.

 

One junior Minister said: "We are no longer too reliant on principles. They get in the way. We are much more pragmatic."

 

The bad old days are explained away thus: "We are trying to telescope what Oxford and Cambridge and Harvard and Yale achieved in 250 years into 25 years. We were an occupied country, too, and old memories from those days still remain. What happened after the revolution was absolutely necessary. Now things are different."

 

Guardian 21.2.1970.

 

 

 

Bosnian Partisans Rescued American Pilots in 1944

 

Maj. Linn M. Farish parachuted into the wild Bosnian hinterland Sept. 19, 1943, to join the British-American mission to Marshal Tito’s partisan headquarters. He went to Josip Broz Tito for assistance in rescuing fliers bailing out of crippled planes over Yugoslavia. The partisan leaders responded by sending this order to every brigade headquarters: “American fliers must be rescued from enemy elements by force of arms if necessary.”

 American Officer Outfoxed Nazis in Balkans for Year

Bari, Italy  – Military censorship has relaxed one of its most rigid restrictions so that public recognition may be given Maj. Linn M. Farish of Woodland, Califo., the courageous officer who outfoxed the Germans for 12 months in the Balkans only to die in a plane crash.

An engineer, Maj. Farish located and surveyed many secret airfields from which Allied fliers and others have been flown out to freedom. A careful observer, he saw events so clearly and with such perspective that his reports were sent to the White House. Anonymity cloaked his identity and activities because he was a secret agent.

Farish parachuted into the wild Bosnian hinterland Sept. 19, 1943, to join the British-American mission to Marshal Tito’s partisan headquarters. He went to Tito for assistance in rescuing fliers bailing out of crippled planes over Yugoslavia. The partisan leaders responded by sending this order to every brigade headquarters: “American fliers must be rescued from enemy elements by force of arms if necessary.”

This pledge of co-operation helped the return from captivity of hundreds of Allied airmen.

Farish began work by sending in data for “escape maps” and urging that fliers be kept up to date on free areas held by Tito. He then began searching for suitable landing strips so the men, once they were in safe hands, might be returned to home bases. He stressed the importance of preparing several strips in each area to permit their use by rotation to confuse the enemy. From such secondary fields many men subsequently escaped from the Germans, among them Tito and Farish himself.

Farish spent three 90 day periods in the interior of Yugoslavia, entering each time by parachute. He helped evacuate a number of fliers who had been hiding after having been shot down in the low level bombing attack on Ploestl in August, 1943. He undertook a series of srveying trips by plane and met his death last Sept. 11 on the third of these journeys.

The Milwaukee Journal, 21 September 1944.

Preuzeto sa: http://bosniakandjewishfriendship.wordpress.com

 

 

Tito's 120th birthday commemorated

 

Several thousand visitors paid their respects at the grave of former Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito on Friday, commemorating the 120th anniversary of his birth, reported the Serbian news agency Tanjug. Visitors from throughout the former Yugoslavia came to the 'House of Flowers' in Belgrade, according to Mirjana Slavkovic, spokesperson for the Yugoslav Museum, adding that almost 3,000 people had climbed the stairs to Tito's memorial center by noon. An estimated 90,000 to 100,000 people visit Tito's grave annually, said Slavkovic.

Along with the many nostalgic former Partizan soldiers and officials, Tito's grave is increasingly being visited by young people who were born after the former leader's death in 1980, according to Slavkovic.

Tito was a noted statesman as the leader of Yugoslavia after World War II. On the international scene he is best known as one of the founders of the Non-Aligned Movement.

CHINADAILY/Xinhua 25.5.2012.

 

 

Documentary TV series 'Tito – the Last Witnesses of the Testament'

 

Who was Josip Broz Tito

Fitzroy Maclean, the head of the British Military mission in Yugoslavia during the World War II declared: 'If anyone represents the child of the 20th century, our ebullient 20th century, than that's certainly Josip Broz Tito. We may like Tito or don't. Some people like him. We may like the 20th century. Some people don't like it. But they exist together – that man and that century', concluded Maclean.

Josip Broz Tito (1892 – 1980) was a well-known Yugoslav politician, statesman and military leader, the only major 20th century statesman who won the war against two great totalitarian regimes - against Nazi-fascism and Stalinism, and afterwards becoming the founder and the greatest authority of the Non-Aligned Movement, together with Egyptian president Nasser and Indian Prime Minister Nehru. After the World War II, Tito was the head of the State of Yugoslavia for 35 years undisputedly enjoying high international reputation.

Tito was the only leader of the anti-fascist coalition, who directly participated in war operations. Tito was the only communist who dared to disagree to Stalin, in 1948 he told the historical 'No' to Stalin. He initialized development stages of association's and work's self-management, so that Yugoslavia achieved the high level of Labour Law. Yugoslavia became out of the undeveloped agrarian country, the secondary developed European country. Yugoslav Army was considered for the third largest Army in Europe.

Tito interceded for the piece in the world, peaceful and active co-existence, not involving in domestic policy of sovereign countries, he encouraged anticolonial forces in Africa and Asia, as also the struggle of poor and opression of people for social and national emantipation.

He was the first communist leader who met Pope – Paul VI.Tito has been nominated for the Nobel prize for peace, he is one of the nominees who lost the Nobel Peace Prize award just for one voice.

About the importance of Josip Broz Tito speaks his funeral itself, that was the biggest statesman's funeral in the 20th century . According to the Eurovision's measures, Tito's funeral was the most watched TV broadcast after the first moon landing.

During the Tito's leadership, people of Yugoslavia lived a half of a century in constant piece, which was the first time in their millennial history. Ten years after his death started the murderous Balcanic war and Yugoslavia crumbled into the six States.

About TV series 'Tito – the Last Witnesses of the Testament'

Documentary TV series 'Tito – the Last Witnesses of the Testament' of film director Lordan Zafranović is an intimate story about the last witnesses Tito's testament and their lives and Tito's life in 13 episodes each of 56 minutes duration.

TV series is intimately based on exclusive stories from Tito's personal, political and stateman's life. Series doesn't pretend to show political pretension of Tito's evaluation and the historical scene in the 20th century. Close to the historical happenings conected to Tito, series aims to show Tito as an 'ordinary - unordinary man', without censorship and ideological commitment.

In series the time's challenges in which Tito lived aren't avoided, as also as all his answers, exactly the same as they were at that time. Documentary series project intetnion is Tito - the men of 'flesh and blood', less as undoubted splendor and charismatic cosmopolitan person of the 20th century.

The Last Witnesses of the Testament and epochs – the closest dependants, women, friends, associates and political antagonists talked about their stories honestly and openly with time distance, without secrets, ideology and myth, indirect – they talked about their destinies, especially experiences, adventures out of life and functioning with Tito. Animated memories evoke different kind of emotions out of theirs and Tito's turbulent personal and professional life. New interesting details from the stage of Tito's life in turbulent time of the 20th century are discovered, whose world and domestic historical circumstances have conduced forming of original pecurial and sometimes controversial Tito's personality, but Tito did backward a huge and very often crucial impact.

The history fact is, that Tito represents the only statesmen and soldier of 20th century, who conquered the two worst totalitarian regimes in history, Nazi-fascism and Stalinism and afterwards constituted the third world countries and the Non-Aligned Movement. Series especially edits to the role of Tito in some important, historically conditioned developments in Croatia: Bleiburg, Goli otok ('Barren island'), Hrvatsko proljeće ('Croatian spring')...

Although they belong to the past, Josip Broz Tito and the 20th century incontestable go together, not without the reason, they still induce significant interest of domestic and foreign world-wide publicity.

lordanzafranovic.com

 

Death of Josip Broz Tito

 

Josip Broz Tito died on May 4th, 1980. In this article from our 1980 archive, Basil Davidson reassesses the legacy of the Yugoslavian president and soldier.

When Josip Broz-Tito died in Belgrade last May, full of years and well content, there passed from the scene a legendary hero who was also a man with a most practical impact on the politics of our century. Bearing witness to this impact more than to the legend, presidents and prime ministers and princes gathered at his funeral in an array such as no small Power had known before. Dying, as convinced a Communist as ever, the man himself was would have greeted the gesture with the careful smile he reserved for good news. He had survived fearful years and outfaced immense hostilities. No, with his death, spokesmen of the wide world paid homage to his wisdom, even those from governments or regimes of virulent past enmity (whether in West or East), and joined to hail him as a crucial figure of our time.

The ironies of this could well deserve a smile. History will enjoy discussing them, but they are evident even with the earth still fresh upon his garden-grave at Dedinje. When, for our part, the British first took notice of Tito’s name, at some point around the middle of 1942, it was no more than a cipher launched in broadcasts by a station called Free Yugoslavia that was known to British Intelligence as being situated in Russia, and probably in Moscow. And when, in 1943, our liaison teams began dropping to Tito’s men in Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia and other regions of that embattled land, the assumption was that Tito, whoever he might really be, was firmly within the arena of Soviet obedience and accompanied by Soviet staffs. Otherwise his isolation and obscurity appeared as complete as his Muscovite alignment.

But then we learned that the truth was far less simple. For one thing, the isolation was much greater than we had thought. No Soviet staffs were found in any place; none in fact would come until long after the British arrival. That Tito and his men were thoroughly committed to Communism, with the Soviet Union as their hero, was immediately clear; and they made it obvious from the start. And yet here too there were puzzling complexities. The style and tone of Tito's movement, as of Tito himself (with whom my own first encounter was during August, 1943 in central Bosnia), had about them an insistent air of independence. Even in those early weeks, when our suspicions of them were as deep as theirs of us, it was hard to think of them as anyone's puppets. The real independence was in fact more profound than we could then know. The reasons for it came out in due course. They have formed the history of Tito's Yugoslavia.

Orthodox opinion in the West long continued to see Tito as little more than Moscow's agent. It was an understandable - or at least unsurprising – misjudgement in those years of Cold War fantasy and panic that followed upon the peace. Here was a man, post-war biographies rapidly explained, who had joined the Bolsheviks in the storms of the October Revolution (having got to Russia as a conscript in the army of Austro-Hungary, an Empire which enclosed his homeland of Croatia), and who, having long served the Comintern during the inter-war years, had become the leader of the Yugoslav Communist Party at a time when Stalin's direct consent was certainly required. 'With his country invaded by the Axis powers in 1941, Tito had begun to organise for insurrection before Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union and would, as the evidence suggests, have launched it even without that invasion. The fact remained that he had launched it, in the event, on instructions from the Comintern. How could the West trust anyone with that kind of record?

The answer proved indigestible, but had to be absorbed in the end. For it came to be seen that the singularity of Tito, however long disbelieved, lay precisely in the fact that he was determined and able to transform a narrow Moscow loyalty into the broad patriotism of a movement of liberation. Later, it came to be seen that the logic of his break with Stalin and the 'Cominform' of 1948 was not a new one, but had been foretold in a wartime break with sectarian politics; and that this wartime break, however partial, formed the central reason why the partisan struggle could be sustained and won. And it is there, in Tito's politics of liberation, that one can find keys to a large puzzle of the second half of our century: the end of monolithic Communism and the beginning of 'polycentric revolutions' of the Marxist Left.

This complex truth was part of a process gradually revealed. Was it only opportunism? It could seem so, for Tito desperately needed military aid which, to our astonishment, the Russians were not providing and which we British, as it turned out, could alone provide. Marching through Bosnia in the autumn of 1943, I found myself called to speak at public meetings whose bannered slogans hailed 'Our allies, England, America and the Soviet Union' – and in that order of precedence. A partisan choir asked me to teach them God Save the King, and they sang it as lustily as their revolutionary anthems. It could be opportunism.

But gradually, as we lived through the extraordinary epic of the partisan war, we came to see that it must, in any case, be more than opportunism. Stalin, as we know now, warned Tito several times against 'frightening the Allies' – but Tito, as we also know, paid small attention to these radio messages from Moscow. His motives for an early and, as yet, quite undefined non-alignment were different – and deeper. They derived from the dynamics of the war itself. For this was a war that had long outgrown the initial phase of insurrection against the invaders and their local puppets or allies. By the time of our arrival, tardy enough as this proved to be, the liberation movement had become an all-Yugoslav uprising fortified by a powerful mobile army, by countless local militias, and by an intensive network of civilian self-administration. It drew strength from all six major and several lesser nationalities of Yugoslavia, the only exception being the local Germans (Volksdeutsche ) who were nearly all Nazis; and, although peasant in its majority, it contained men and women from every community and class.

This kind of war of liberation, as all the abundant evidence of our century has tended to confirm, cannot be sustained and won with any narrow programme or sectarian vision. It needs the strong sense and conviction of social renewal linked to national pride, of revolution coupled with cultural resurgence, of a moral development capable of evoking programmes of political and economic change. Here in wartime Yugoslavia it became evident that the multitudes who joined their life and loyalty to Tito's movement wanted to free their country from a ruthless enemy but also wanted to free themselves from their own past – and these two desires were inseparable. They asked for a different future. They wanted equality and justice as well as national freedom.

It was impossible to live among these people for long without perceiving these truths, and without coming to accept, no matter how ambiguous the evidence might often seem, that these were truths which shaped a central conclusion: the demand for active and responsible participation in every field of public life. These people meant to evict their enemies; they also meant to rule themselves. That an effective response could be found to this dual and difficult demand was the work of Tito and the movement which he led and steered. Yet to make this response the Yugoslav Communists had to grow out of their sectarian infancy. They found this very hard, but broadly they achieved it. They must otherwise have perished.

Their people belonged to a peculiar national history. Yugoslavia had emerged in 1919 as the 'triune kingdom' of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Capped by a monarchy, this new country of the 'South Slavs' had the form of a parliamentary democracy. But the democracy was fragile. Soon these Croats, Slovenes, Bosnians, Macedonians and other 'forbidden nationalities' of the old empires were subject to a royal supremacy which increasingly became a narrow Serbian dictatorship. This fall into autocracy was scarcely surprising at the time. It was after all the fate of each of the newly- independent countries of central and eastern Europe after 1918, Czechoslovakia only excepted. Ruled by small groups of self-appointed 'beneficiaries', they came increasingly under the influence of external Powers. Not exactly 'neo-colonies' – a convenient label not then available – they were the victims of a situation which bred bad government, corruption and increasing violence. The term 'Balkan' ceased in those inter-war years to be merely geographical. It be- came a badge of misery and abuse.

That is a simplified picture, but its essential truth was amply confirmed by the fearful disasters of 1941. In April of that year the Nazis sent their armies over the Hungarian and Bulgarian frontiers into Yugoslavia, and the armies of their allies – Fascist Italy, Bulgaria, Hungary – across the same or other frontiers. Within a fortnight the country was submerged in ruin, its armed forces were in rout or disbanded, and its king and government in flight abroad. But worse followed. Civil war came hard upon defeat. Organised in a local fascist movement, Croat Catholics set about the wild massacre of Bosnian Muslims and Orthodox Serbs; and one huge work of slaughter led on ferociously to another. More than a million-and-a-half Yugoslavs were killed in 1941-45; but the grimmest truth about this figure is that very many of these, perhaps most, were killed by other Yugoslavs.

These were the circumstances in which people fought for their very lives but also, as the fight continued, for a future that could bury these savage hatreds. That is why Tito's slogan, bratsva i jedinstva (brotherhood and unity), both epitomised the aims of the partisan war of liberation and achieved a power of attraction that nothing else, in the end, could seriously question or has seriously questioned since. Yet brotherhood and unity spelt out participation, and participation meant democracy. And this again is why Tito's party, no matter how great the mental and organisational obstacles, had to evolve or perish.

Its members were ill prepared for the challenge. Long persecution and Communist centralism had fostered habits of autocracy, attitudes of intolerance, suspicions of any who might argue. Now they were called to lead great multitudes of people whose voluntary adherence could be held and encouraged only by very different attitudes. Somehow they had to show that they could lead to peace and reconciliation as well as win battles. Only an inner transformation could encompass that.

History may agree, even if with reservations, that Tito's largest contribution to our century was that he saw this need for inner transformation well before others, and was able to launch it. While the wounds of fratricidal war sharpened hatred and intolerance, Tito set out to ensure that his party and movement were able to clear the ground for reconciliation. Out of this – though not without grim setbacks – there came a process of democratisation that was probably well launched by the middle of 1942, and certainly by the middle of 1943 when we British arrived at last upon the scene. From then onwards this process took increasing shape in networks of village, district and regional assemblies and executives of self-government and these were the roots of the system by which the Yugoslavs govern themselves today. Nothing in history can be taken as inevitable. Yet from then onwards an eventual break with Stalinist conceptions of rigid centralism was already immanent in whatever happened or was attempted.

Much happened, and much was attempted. A few aspects may be singled out. Each is a related aspect of the problems of 'brotherhood and unity'. First, there was the break with Stalin and then with Stalinist conceptions. There was the nature of the alternative system which began to be promoted then. Linked closely, there was Tito's handling of the 'national question' among Yugoslavia's persistently assertive nationalities. Along with these, there was Tito's drive for non-alignment as an international movement as well as a national posture.

The break with Moscow came in 1948 and was doubly painful, for it chafed with years of adulation of the Soviet Union and it raised the question of revolutionary legitimacy. It was also very dangerous, for it left Yugoslavia in terrible isolation and, as it was feared at the time, in grave peril of Soviet invasion. Yet the tradition and success of the independence struggle were such that the risks of this break were taken with a remarkable unanimity and even with enthusiasm. Stalin demanded obedience, not friendship; ready for the second, these Yugoslavs were determined not to yield the first. They had traced their own road during the war; they would continue to trace it now.

Their problem, then, was to secure aid from the West without falling into the Cold War obedience that the West, above all Washington, also wished to exact. Gradually, this problem was also solved, though not without some bitter moments, and then, after 1952, the beginnings of a specific and often very radical process of participation was launched and worked into everyday life. This process is known as samoupravlenje , perhaps best translated as 'self-government'.

Wages, work plans, all forms of material development, increasingly all forms of cultural and social development as well, become subject to discussion and decision which 'begin at the base'. How far this may work must of course depend to some extent on the frailties of human nature, as influential here as anywhere else: but the circumstances for its being able to work are what the new system set out to evolve and guarantee. In many ways sui generis , it is furthermore a system which could not have been conceived in theory, much less embodied in practice, without the background of the partisan movement. In this large sense, samoupravlenje is Tito's direct creation and legacy.

The policy proceeds in a country that is vastly different from the 'triune kingdom' of the inter-war years. That old Yugoslavia might be reasonably described as a semi-colony of ferocious discontents. Tito's Yugoslavia is a country that suffers from a bundle of economic and social ills, such as a gaping balance of payments deficit and the massive emigration of the unemployed to jobs in Germany. But it is also a country in which industrialisation and cultural expansion have marched together with a staunch independence of mind and policy. The fact that this is surrounded by argument and disputation is evidence of that particular truth. Much of the debate concerns everyday discontent with this or that failure, shortage, or bureaucratic blunder which are by no means peculiar to Yugoslavia. But much of it concerns the federal dispensation.

'We have solved the national question', Tito claimed in 1962 – and with reason. The old dictatorships, whether monarchist or Stalinist, became a distant memory. Progressively adapted to larger forms of autonomy, Yugoslavia consists of six republics and two sub-republics, each with great and increasing powers over their own administration, taxation, planning, cultural development, and indeed practically everything except foreign affairs and national security. Nowhere else has the basic concept of the monolithic nation-state received so effective a challenge.

Not everyone has been satisfied. These eight autonomous units within their federal frontiers have had a sometimes bumpy ride since the 1950s. Serbian nationalism has yearned for its past; Croatian nationalism has threatened secession; the Slovenes have attracted envy for their complacent wealth; the poor republics have pressed for a bigger share of the cake; while the process of decentralisation has produced a crop of errors due to inefficiency, exaggeration, or simple human folly. Tito had to rage and storm in tricky moments. Yet the general outcome and perspective still confirm Tito's claim. No matter what disputes may continue over language definitions, economic shares, or inter-republican finagling and sharp practice, the bloody hatreds of the pre-war years and of 1941 seem finally assuaged; and what holds these republics together can repeatedly be seen, as now in the wake of Tito's death, to be far more powerful than whatever may continue to divide them. The strong framework of national armed forces, still commanded by wartime veterans, no doubt guarantees this ultimate unity. The League of Communists, however much transformed from its old sectarianism, is also there to watch and guard. But the conflicts now are family quarrels even if they can still explode in angry words.

This great achievement, and undoubtedly it is one, has long had its reflection in another of Tito's principles of action: non-alignment in foreign policy. Continued loyalty to the concepts of the Soviet state could never have allowed the decentralisation on which the achievement rests; and to this extent it may be said that non-alignment was the only sensible course of action after the break with Stalinist concepts. Yet there is much to suggest that Tito him- self was long convinced of the value of a non-aligned policy. Even as early as November, 1945, with the din of battle barely stilled, he told me in a long- forgotten interview for The Times that,

We mean to make Yugoslavia both democratic and independent; and we shall take good care to cherish this independence. It is important for us and for our national development as peoples of a federated state. But it is also important to the great Powers...

Yugoslavia might have a natural and warm friendship with the Soviet Union, but

there is nothing exclusive about it. That would be against our policy and our wishes, and it might easily be suicidal. Good relations between the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia do not mean that Yugoslavia will lose her independence and become a satellite of the Soviet Union...

Just how far an exclusive friendship would be 'suicidal' became clear only three years later. When it did, this line of thought of 1945 – as of the later war- time years – led on to finding a way of escape from the hammer-and-anvil situation in which Yugoslavia then stood, with Moscow full of menace and with Washington by no means friendly.

So it was that Tito began to build a space 'between the blocs' where Yugoslavia need not be alone, but could be joined and therefore fortified by other countries which, for one reason or another, had to fear or face the same hammer-and-anvil posture. A certain reconciliation with Moscow occurred in 1956, with the Khrushchev 'thaw', but without seriously reawakening the West's earlier suspicions. Yet Tito, who put no faith in great-Power favours, persevered with non-alignment. On a programme of co-existence, disarmament, and conciliation through UN agencies, he set out to tour the world, especially the ex-colonial world, wherever hammer- and-anvil situations hurt the most. For this role he was singularly well placed and well prepared. He could speak with the prestige of a small but powerful country whose real independence was unquestioned, and one, moreover, which itself had only lately emerged from a more or less colonial condition. He put forth his personal vigour and conviction to persuade and combine a whole galaxy of leaders such as Gamal-Abdel Nasser, and he had some notable success. By 1968 he had visited more than thirty leaders or governments, and, always strong on organisation, had pressed successfully for systematic ways in which a worldwide movement of non-alignment could acquire form and presence. As early as 1961, for example, he was able to preside over an initial conference of the non-aligned countries to which twenty- three governments sent their leading men. A second such conference, this time in Cairo, attracted as many as forty- seven governments; and the movement has continued to grow.

The policy has served Yugoslavia well, giving its government an influence and weight in world affairs which are now accepted both by East and West. How far the non-aligned movement can develop further, other than in keeping a clear space of co-existence between the blocs, is another matter. With members as widely divergent in their policies and loyalties as Zaire at one end and Cuba at the other, 'non-alignment' has become somewhat of a victim of its own success. Yet Tito could still have argued with conviction that the policy he fathered had proved a valid one, and another contribution to the keeping of the peace.

The man himself had all the charm and charisma of a great commander who never asks of others what he will not do himself, and combines authority with an acute interest in people and an irresistible sense of homour. Did he still believe in any general future for Communism? Almost certainly the answer is affirmative. However, Tito was never a man to embark on the squaring of theoretical circles. The springs of his practical genius derived, rather, from a vivid and profound sense of historical reality. Even with all that had occurred, he persistently saw the needs and possibilities of his time and place – and he could lead his fellow-countrymen into doing what they had not done, or even thought of doing, at any time before.

Men and women followed him through mortal dangers because he had found the way to epitomise, for them, the destiny that had to be found. His authority came from the successes of the partisan struggle, but it also came – and this is another statement of the same thing – from his sheer demands of self-sacrifice and the serving of the common interest. People grow under such demands when these are felt to be intensely right; and people love the leaders who thus make them grow, and gain a new dignity, and a new human worth. That is how it was with Josip Broz-Tito.

Dr Basil Davidson specialises in the history of Africa and eastern Europe and is the author of Special Operations Europe, recently published by Gollancz.

Dr Basil Davidson

History Today 1980.

 

Tito’s Old Blue Train Gets Back On Track

 

The train once used by the former Yugoslav leader, Josip Broz Tito, is now taking tourists from Serbia to Montenegro. It was a train that once carried monarchs and world leaders. But now holidaymakers, keen on learning more about the history of former Yugoslavia, can take a trip in the ex-President's state carriages as part of an escorted tour. The travel firm Explore Montenegro is offering a holiday package that includes a day's ride on the so-called Blue Train, built in 1959 for Tito, who ruled Yugoslavia from 1945 to 1980. According to the tour operator, the train was one of the most luxurious in the world when it took to the rails. 

Now guests will be taken on a 12-hour voyage of exploration in Tito's tracks with educational talks, breakfast and a three-course lunch (with wine and plum brandy) cooked on board by local chefs, enjoyed in the former ruler’s wood-panelled dining car.

Leaving Belgrade at 7am and arriving in Bar, in Montenegro, at 7pm, the train travels through the Serbian plains and Montenegrin mountains, passing gorges and lakes.

The excursion is combined with a short stay in Belgrade and a longer stay on the Adriatic Montenegrin coast.

The Art Deco interior of the train is mostly made of mahogany, pear and walnut wood, according to Serbian Railways, the country's national railway company. The saloons and hallways are decked out with intricate marquetry, wool carpets, velvet and silk.

The carriages include apartment saloons for Tito and his guests, a "ceremonial" conference room, dining car, a kitchen and sleeping quarters.
The train, said to have travelled more than 600,000 km during its time in service, was used to transport Tito's coffin across Yugoslavia, following his death in May 1980.

During his 35-year-long reign, Tito outlawed all political opposition and imprisoned his opponents. Some also say that his poorly-advised economic policy saddled Yugoslavia with enormous foreign debts.

But his legacy is complex and there is still much nostalgia for him in several of the Yugoslav successor countries, where his rule is remembered as a time of peace and relative prosperity.

Tito's memory has always been surrounded by speculation concerning his ethnic origins, his women and his children.
Kuca Cveca, the "House of Flowers" where he was buried and the location of the Museum of History of Yugoslavia, is still one of the most visited landmarks in Belgrade. Some 17 million people have visited the site since 1980.

BalkanInsight 4.1.2013.

 

 

When Tito played against Stalin… in the football field

 

Tito and Stalin weren’t friends. The socialist Yugoslavia rejected to be under the Soviet Union control and developed their own way of socialism. During the ‘Cold War‘ it were also some episodes of tensions between both socialistic countries. As a resume we can say that the Yugoslavian style was more open to the capitalistic side, their citizens could travel and it wasn’t as much censure as in the Soviet Union so Stalin broke with Tito in 1948 and declare him as a fascist and a Russian enemy.

There is a symbolic way to fight agains the countries against who you can fight with… the football court, as Emir Kusturica shows in Otac na službenom putu (Dad is in a buisness trip), that happened in 1952 when both countries played against each other during the Olympic Games celebrated in Helsinki.

They played two times in the first round; the first time they tied 5-5 but in the second, the Iugoslavians won 3-1 even the Russians scored first. So the Soviets went home and the Yugoslavians enjoy the match as a victory on the battle field. That was the first and the unique time that both teams played during Tito’s and Stalin’s regime.

After Stalin’s dead, the new Goverments under Krushev commandment tried to get closer from Iugoslavia and the other socialistic countries in the world. In 1955 an oficcial delegation from the Soviet Russia visit Belgrade and declare Tito as a Communist Number Two in the world. Both teams played again the next year in the Melbourne Olympics. This time Russia won 0-1.

EVS

 

Yugoslavia's Tito: now comes the test of his 'collective leadership'

 

At our first meeting, not long after World War II, when few of its ravages had yet been repaired, Marshal Tito outlined to me what he visualized for Yugoslavia. The 1948 break with Stalin had been made, quite simply, on the issue of independence. It was a courageous leap into the unknown. The goal, Tito said, was an independent state capable of "giving our people the goods they need and a real voice in their own affairs."

The country was menaced by the Communist Information Bureau's blockade -- and military threat -- and Western aid was then highly hypothetical. Tito went on quietly: "There must be a steady process of giving more and more real administrative control to republican, regional, and local authorities -- for an ultimate community of all the peoples, schooled in a new way of self-management dependent on popular participation."

When he passed on May 4, the dream stood remarkably fulfilled. The six Yugoslav republics, the minority regions of Voivodina and Kosovo, and local councils all have virtually total self-rule in their own affairs. The federal Constitution assures equality to all the nationalities.

The succession, the "collective leadership" Tito designed in the last years of his life, is divided meticulously and equally among the nationalities.

Throughout his regime, although Moscow always considered him a heretic Marxist "revisionist," Tito remained a single-minded communist ruler.He was largely benign and, given his political schooling, extraordinarily tolerant; yet on issues he deemed crucial, he was an uncompromising and sometimes ruthless party disciplinarian.

In spite of private regrets, he displayed no compunction over old friendship in dismissing even the "favorite son," Milovan Djilas, when the latter demanded more and faster reforms in 1954. ("You are pushing on an open door, Djido," Tito told him, still using the affectionate diminutive; and to a large extent it was true.)

Nor did he hesitate 12 years later to purge another old comrade, Aleksandar Rankovic, the conservative who was plotting to halt "liberalization."

Always Tito stuck to the middle road of essential, regulated reform. He would not have the clock put back. Nor would he countenance "excessively" liberal ideas. Could one have expected more?

"Why," he asked me, "does the West want us to have a multiparty system?" He insisted that his way had united the Yugoslav patchwork quilt of four peoples (and a score of minorities), four languages, and three religions as never before.

"Opposing programs," he said, "would only expose us to the danger of being what Yugoslavia always was before -- somebody's satellite."

The tumult in Croatia in 1971 suggested he was not far wrong to fear fragmentation of the country if the party rein should be too slack. He cracked down on radical "liberals" and nationalists alike. But the basic reforms survived.

Yugoslavs still traveled freely, had foreign-currency bank accounts, imported Western cars, read almost anything they pleased. They still lived in a visa-free, open country.

"Socialism," Tito had told me back in 1952, "should be for people, not something arid and and statistical. True humanism is an essential."

Such communism with a human face was to fail tragically in Czechoslovakia in 1968. Alexander Dubcek lacked the steel-tough qualities that Stalin had overlooked in Tito 20 years before.

Had Stalin not forced the break, would Tito have been the disciplined member of a Soviet-dominated bloc that he was expected to be? I believe not. The elements of independence were evident well before.

In 1943, Tito told Brig. Fitzroy Maclean, head of the British military mission to partisan headquarters, "Don't overlook our sacrifices in this struggle. We shall not lightly cast aside an independence won at such cost."

There was an engaging extrovert facet to the man. In later life, he made no bones about liking good clothes and good living. When British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden visited in 1952, the lavish reciprocal gift-giving included rolls of fine English cloth. Tito was delighted.

He was the first Communist Party chief to don white tie and tails to hobnob with royalty. He liked fast motorboats and barbecuing steaks at his Adriatic home for guests as incongruous with himself as John Foster Dulles, the arch anticommunist Us Secretary of State during the Eisenhower years. When Britain's Queen Elizabeth stayed at Brioni, he had the orchestra strike up a Strauss waltz and asked her, "May I have the pleasure?"

His urbane sense of style and good humor were far from the preconceived notions many had of a "communist boss" from the Balkans.

East-bloc leaders sneered about a "personality cult" but privately envied Tito's unique position and independence. Yugoslavs saw the show as an acceptable part of the man who had kept them free and put their country on the map.

By Eric Bourne, Special correspondence of The Christian Science monitor, Eric Bourne, the Monitor's special correspondent for Eastern Europe, was one of the first Western journalists to become closely acquainted with President Tito, who passed on May 4. Mr. Bourne was based in Belgrade during Yugoslavia's break with the Soviet bloc in 1948 and has been a regular observer of the Yugoslav scene ever since.

Cristian Science Monitor 5.5.1980.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zadnja Promjena ( Thursday, 18 April 2013 )