Josip Broz Tito

He was a controversial president of the country that no longer exists.

Marshal Josip Broz Tito (1892–1980) was a communist revolutionary and statesman, serving in various roles, finally as the President for Life of the Socijalistička Federativna Republika Jugoslavija [Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia]. During Second World War, he was the leader of the Partisans, who were often regarded as the most effective anti-Axis resistance movement in occupied Europe. He was a popular public figure both in Yugoslavia and worldwide.

Tito gained further international attention by launching, together with Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt and Jawaharlal Nehru of India, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) officially founded in Beograd in 1961. The organization declared that it does not want formal allegiance with or against any major power bloc. Other countries of the developing world also joined the movement to defend their newly acquired independence. Today, with 120 member and 17 observer states, NAM is the second largest group of countries after the United Nations.

Some have criticized his presidency as authoritarian, characterized by strong centralized power and repression of political opponents. While others consider him a benevolent dictator, an authoritarian leader who exercised absolute political power over the state but did it for the benefit of the entire population. However, perhaps there are some more thought-provoking questions, such as whether widespread access to free education and health care, and improving living standards of the population are worthy reasons for suppressing civil liberties? Similarly, how could his efforts for the peaceful coexistence of the nations of the Yugoslav federation lead to the violent nationalism that eventually vented in a series of Yugoslav wars of the 1990s, more than a decade after his death?

Moreover, was Josip Broz the locksmith the same person as Tito, the world-renowned leader? There have been whispering for a long time that dispute his identity. Can a descendant from a peasant family have habits and lifestyle that indicate a succession from an upper-class family? How can someone from an ‘irrelevant’ corner of the world become such a major player in world politics? There has never been any hard evidence to support the claims. Whatever it is, the Tito urban legend is still alive and kicking.

Kuća cveća [House of Flowers] is the resting place of Marshal Josip Broz Tito (1892–1980) and his wife Jovanka Broz (1924–2013). It was built as a winter garden in 1975 near the presidential residence. At Tito’s personal request, he was buried here. The funeral invoked further conspiracy theories because he was buried twice. His sarcophagus weighed nine tones and had to be put in place with a special crane that would make the funeral unsightly. Therefore, the first interment for cameras and dignitaries was done with a 200 kg replica sarcophagus. The second interment with the genuine sarcophagus was held privately the next day.

Today, the mausoleum is located on the grounds of the Muzej istorije Jugoslavije [Museum of Yugoslav History]. The permanent exhibition consist of Tito’s personal artifacts, gifts from the territories of Yugoslavia and foreign dignitaries as well as some of the batons from the Relays of Youth containing birthday wishes for Tito from ostensibly all the young people of Yugoslavia. Relays of Youth were symbolic relay races held annually in Yugoslavia. The races usually started in Tito’s hometown, Kumrovec, and passed through all the major cities and towns of the country. They ended in Belgrade at the Stadium of the Jugoslovenske Narodne Armije [Yugoslav People’s Army] on May 25, Tito’s official birthday and National Youth Day.


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