Tito died but controversy remained: Who was Tito?

Josip Broz Tito ControversyYugoslav dictator Josip Broz Tito died 33 years before, in May 4th, 1980 in Ljubljana. His funeral gathered more people, statesmen and diplomats than any other politician`s funeral before-700.000 people came to Belgrade on his funeral and 209 both state and party delegations from all around the world. Despite the heavy tensions between Soviet and American bloc and the Cold War the leaders of both communist and Western countries were together in Yugoslav capital Belgrade that day.

People around former Yugoslav republics still discuss the historical role of Tito. Some think that he was really “the greatest son of the all Yugoslav people” but some say that he was nothing like that, they think he was brutal dictator and criminal who`d left hundreds of thousands dead people behind hime. Still, the years of the bad economical and social condition in former Yugoslav republics made people to be more nostalgic about Tito`s era.

Official story

According to the official data, Josip Broz Tito was born in May 7, 1892, Kumrovec, near Zagreb, Croatia, Austria-Hungary [now in Croatia]. He was secretary-general (later president) of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (1939–80), supreme commander of the Yugoslav Partisans (1941–45) and the Yugoslav People’s Army (1945–80), and marshal (1943–80), premier (1945–53), and president (1953–80) of Yugoslavia. Tito was the chief architect of the “second Yugoslavia,” a socialist federation that lasted from World War II until 1991. He was the first Communist leader in power to defy Soviet hegemony, a backer of independent roads to socialism (sometimes referred to as “national communism”), and a promoter of the policy of nonalignment between the two hostile blocs in the Cold War.

Official biography says that he was common metalworker and later he became union leader, communist and revolutionist. After working as an itinerant metalworker in various Austro-Hungarian and German centres, he was drafted into the Austro-Hungarian army in 1913, completed noncommissioned-officer training, and was sent as a sergeant in the war against Serbia in 1914. Transferred to the Russian front in early 1915, he was seriously wounded and captured by the Russians in April 1915. After a long hospitalization he was sent to prisoner-of-war camps, where he became acquainted with Bolshevik propaganda. In 1917 he participated in the July Days demonstrations in Petrograd (St. Petersburg) and, after the October Revolution, joined a Red Guard unit in Omsk, Siberia. Following a White counteroffensive, he fled to Kirgiziya (now Kyrgyzstan) and subsequently returned to Omsk, where he married a Russian woman and joined the South Slav section of the Bolshevik party. In October 1920 he returned to his native Croatia (then part of the newly established Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes) and soon joined the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (CPY).

Tito with Stalin and Molotov

Tito with Stalin and Molotov

By 1937 Tito was increasingly involved in the CPY’s underground work in Yugoslavia, where he established ties with a new generation of militants. In 1937–38, Joseph Stalin’s purges devastated the CPY leadership, claiming the lives of Yugoslav communist leader Milan Gorkić and most of the other topmost veterans. Tito profited from (and probably was an accomplice in) the repression, gaining the Comintern’s mandate to replenish the CPY’s leadership councils with his hand-picked lieutenants—Edvard Kardelj, Aleksandar Ranković, Milovan Djilas and Ivo Lola Ribar. He was the Comintern’s choice for the CPY’s new secretary-general, a position he formally assumed in 1939. At the Fifth Land Conference of the CPY, an underground minicongress held in Zagreb in October 1940, Tito sketched the CPY’s leftist strategy, which focused the party on armed insurrection and on a Soviet-style federalist solution to Yugoslavia’s nationality conflict.

During the World War II Tito got support from the British PM Winston Churchill. He and his Communist Party with its armed force partisans already had the support of Stalin and Soviet Union. Soviet Red Army liberated Yugoslavia and the Britain stopped supporting King Petar II Karadjordjevic and Yugoslav Royal Army led by general Draža Mihailović.

Tito came into conflict with Stalin in 1948. Stalin accused Tito for leaving the communism and Tito accused Stalin for imperialism. The result of the conflict was that Yugoslavia was excluded from the membership of Soviet bloc and then more focused to the Western states.

Tito was merciless to his internal opponents. All communist who`d supported Stalin and all communist who were only suspicious were arrested and deported to Goli otok, top secret prison and labor camp run by the authorities of the UDBA (secret communist service). Until 1956, throughout the Informbiro period, it was used to incarcerate political prisoners. These included known and alleged Stalinists, but also other Communist Party of Yugoslavia members or even nonparty citizens accused of exhibiting sympathy or leanings towards the Soviet Union. Many anticommunist (Serbian, Croatian, Macedonian, Albanian and other nationalists etc.) were also incarcerated on Goli Otok. Non-political prisoners were also sent to the island to serve out simple criminal sentencesand some of them were sentenced to death. Numbers of total prisoners and massacred victims are unknown but Vladimir Dedijer estimates 32,000 male prisoners in Goli otok only; other historians estimates 4,000 killed.

After the changes in the Soviet Union following Stalin’s death in 1953, Tito was faced with a choice: either continue the Westward course and give up one-party dictatorship (an idea promoted by Milovan Djilas but rejected by Tito in January 1954) or seek reconciliation with a somewhat reformed new Soviet leadership. The latter course became increasingly possible after a conciliatory state visit by Nikita Khrushchev to Belgrade in May 1955. The Belgrade declaration, adopted at that time, committed Soviet leaders to equality in relations with the communist-ruled countries—at least in the case of Yugoslavia. However, the limits of reconciliation became obvious after the Soviet intervention in Hungary in 1956; this was followed by a new Soviet campaign against Tito, aimed at blaming the Yugoslavs for inspiring the Hungarian insurgents. Yugoslav-Soviet relations went through similar cool periods in the 1960s (following the invasion of Czechoslovakia) and thereafter.

Nevertheless, Stalin’s departure lessened the pressures for greater integration with the West, and Tito came to conceive of his internal and foreign policy as being equidistant from both blocs. Seeking like-minded statesmen elsewhere, he found them in the leaders of the developing countries. Negotiations with Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt and Jawaharlal Nehru of India in June 1956 led to a closer cooperation among states that were “nonengaged” in the East-West confrontation. From nonengagement evolved the concept of “active nonalignment”—that is, the promotion of alternatives to bloc politics, as opposed to mere neutrality. The first meeting of nonaligned states took place in Belgrade under Tito’s sponsorship in 1961.

Controversy: Did Tito kill Stalin?

When Josef Stalin died (March 5th, 1953), a letter was found in his office that had been written by Tito:

‘Stop sending people to kill me. We’ve already captured five of them, one of them with a bomb and another with a rifle… If you don’t stop sending killers, I’ll send one to Moscow, and I won’t have to send a second.’
 

This letter made many historians think that Tito actually poisened Stalin. In his book Tito In Tovarisi historian Joze Pirjavec puts forward mainly circumstantial evidence to support his poisoning theory. Crucially, however, he has used former Yugoslav archives that have been overlooked by many historians.

He suggests that Tito knew Stalin wouldn`t stop until an assassination attempt was eventually successful. Mr Pirjavec suggests that Tito`s letter was not an idle threat but a statement of fact-one which he carried through.

Tito wasn`t Yugoslav?

There are a numerous of claims that Tito wasn`t what he did represent himself for. The U.S. National Security Agency has recently released a paper which sheds important light on this obscure, yet intriguing, topic. Shortly before the Yugoslav leader’s death, “Is Yugoslav President Tito Really a Yugoslav?” appeared in Cryptologic Spectrum, a classified NSA in-house journal. Through close analysis of Tito’s speech patterns, the unnamed author concluded that Tito did not speak Croatian like a native, but like someone whose native tongue was Russian (or Polish). Moreover, Tito’s spoken variance with standard Serbo-Croatian (to use the Communist-approved linguistic term) could not be explained by spending a few years in a foreign country.

Other think that Tito actually was Josua Ambroz Tito. According them, Josua Ambroz Mayer was born in Austrian capital Vienna on May 7, 1891. His true physical father was Samuel Mayer, a rich Polish Jew and owner of the Viennese factory of medical prostetics. Marija Javeršek then was his Slovene servant, and that correlation resulted by the birth of their son Josua Ambroz. In difference of his handicaped half-brother (Josip Broz), Josua Ambroz was healthy, robust, well educated and much more intelligent.

Due to his ancestry, J.A. Mayer grew in imperial Vienna and received there the best basic education in Wiener-deutsch, and then he finished also musical school as an excellent piano player and the best interpreter of Verdi and Chopin in his class. Then he continued his military education, and he went in the Austrian imperial Military Academia in Pecs (Hungary), being there in the same class with the future Führer of German Third Reich i.e. with young Adolf Hitler, his future military antagonist in WW2.

One way or another, Tito was anything but everyman. His legend continues to live among those who worship him but among those who hate him, as well. One thing is sure: he is one of the most important politicians from the Balkans ever. And history will study him for a very long time.

 

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