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 who held various roles, ultimately becoming the President for Life of the Socijalistička Federativna Republika Jugoslavija [Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia]. Throughout the Second World War, he led the Partisans, widely recognized as the most effective anti-Axis resistance movement in occupied Europe. Tito gained significant popularity as a public figure, both within Yugoslavia and on a global scale.

Tito garnered increased international attention by spearheading the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in 1961, alongside Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt and Jawaharlal Nehru of India. The movement, formally founded in Beograd, 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 seeking to safeguard their newly acquired independence. Today, with 120 member states and 17 observer states, NAM stands as the second largest coalition of countries globally, surpassed only by the United Nations.

Some have criticized his presidency as authoritarian, characterized by the concentration of power and the suppression of political opponents. Others, however, view him as a benevolent dictator – an authoritarian leader who exercised absolute political power over the state but did it for the benefit of the entire population. Nevertheless, there are some more thought-provoking questions to consider. For instance, are the widespread availability of free education and health care, along with improved living standards, worthy reasons for suppressing civil liberties? Similarly, how could his efforts to promote peaceful coexistence among the nations of the Yugoslav federation ultimately give rise to violent nationalism, leading to the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s more than a decade after his death?

Furthermore, was Josip Broz the locksmith the same person as Tito, the world-renowned leader? There have long been whispers casting doubt on his true identity. Can someone from a peasant family exhibit habits and a lifestyle indicative of an upper-class lineage? How could an individual from a seemingly insignificant corner of the world rise to become such a prominent figure in world politics? There has never been any hard evidence to substantiate these claims. Nonetheless, the urban legend surrounding Tito continues to persist.

The Kuća cveća [House of Flowers] serves as the final resting place for Marshal Josip Broz Tito (1892–1980) and his wife Jovanka Broz (1924–2013). Originally built as a winter garden in 1975, it stands in near the presidential residence. Upon Tito’s personal request, he was buried here. The funeral invoked additional conspiracy theories as he was interred twice. His actual sarcophagus, weighing nine tones, required a specialized crane for placement, which would have marred the funeral proceedings. Consequently, a 200 kg replica sarcophagus was used for the initial interment, intended for cameras and dignitaries. The genuine sarcophagus was privately laid to rest the following day.

Today, the mausoleum is situated within the premises of the Muzej istorije Jugoslavije [Museum of Yugoslav History]. The permanent exhibition consists of Tito’s personal artifacts, gifts from the territories of Yugoslavia and foreign dignitaries, as well as some batons from the Relays of Youth. These batons held birthday wishes for Tito, supposedly representing the youth of Yugoslavia. The Relays of Youth were symbolic relay races held annually in Yugoslavia, starting in Tito’s hometown of Kumrovec and passing through all the major cities and towns across the country. They concluded in Belgrade at the Stadium of the Jugoslovenske Narodne Armije [Yugoslav People’s Army] on May 25th, coinciding with Tito’s official birthday and National Youth Day.


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