Josip Broz Tito (actually Josip Broz a.k.a. “Tito”), cyr. Јосип Броз Тито (born May 7, 1892 in Kumrovac, Austria-Hungary, May 25 according to his official birth certificate, died May 4, 1980 in Ljubljana) was the Croatian leader of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from 1945 until his death.
During World War II, Tito organized an anti-fascist resistance movement known as the Partisans of Yugoslavia. He was later a founding member of the Cominform, but resisting Soviet influence, he became one of the founders and promoters of the Non-Aligned Movement. He died on 4 May 1980 in Ljubljana and was buried in Belgrade.
The youngest sergeant in the Austro-Hungarian army. Seriously wounded and captured by the troops of the Russian Empire during World War I, he was sent to a labor camp in the Urals. He took part in the October Revolution and joined a Red Guard unit in Omsk. He then returned to Yugoslavia, where he joined the Communist Party of Yugoslavia.
From 1939 to 1980 Secretary General and then President of the Presidium of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia. From 1941 to 1945 leader of the Yugoslav partisans. From 1943 Marshal of Yugoslavia, commander-in-chief of the Yugoslav army. With a very favorable reputation abroad – in both Western and Eastern Bloc countries, he received as many as 98 foreign orders, including the Legion of Honor and the Order of the Bath. Along with Jawaharlara Nehru, Gamal Abdel Naser and Sukarno, one of the leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement.
Tito was the chief architect of the Second Yugoslavia, a socialist federation that existed from 1943 to 1992 (three of the six republics broke away in 1991). He was one of the founders of the Cominform, although he was soon the only member of the alliance to oppose Soviet hegemony. Advocate of an independent path to socialism (sometimes incorrectly referred to as National Communism or more correctly as Titoism). His rational policy of non-alignment and cooperation with both blocs during the Cold War resulted in the economic boom of the 1960s and 1970s. His death led to increased tensions between the Yugoslav republics, which eventually led to the breakup of the country in 1991.
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He was born on May 7, 1892 in Kumrovac, Croatia, then part of Austria-Hungary, in an area called Zagorje. Some controversy surrounds the Yugoslav president”s date of birth. In the parish book and on the certificate of graduation from a public school, the date of birth is May 7. In military documents, the date of May 25 appears and this date was given by Tito as his birthday. He was the seventh child of Franjo and Marija Broz. His father, Franjo Broz, was Croatian while his mother Marija was a Slovenian peasant. His parents were married on January 21, 1891. Later the Broz couple had eight more children; the family was poor. He spent his early years with his grandparents on his mother”s side in Podsreda, Slovenia. According to Tita, his grandmother told him the Broz family”s origin story; the family was said to have fled from the Turks over the Dalmatian-Bosnian border. According to Broza”s grandmother, according to the oldest surviving document, the Broz family settled in Zagorje around 1630 and came to Pazin from the Istrian peninsula. From the age of seven he helped his family in the fields. In 1900 he started elementary school in Kumrovac (it was opened a year earlier), he failed and had to repeat the grade a second time – his learning problems were caused by the fact that he could only speak Slovenian and the vocabulary from that language was mixed with Croatian. After he improved his academic performance, his parents enrolled him in a better folk high school called opetovnica. He left the school in 1905. At first he wanted to become a tailor, but his grandfather convinced him to choose the profession of mechanic. At first he took up a job at his uncle”s farm, where he worked for eight months. After returning home he wanted to go to work in a coal mine in Silesia, but he ran out of money for the trip.
After completing a 4-year elementary school from 1905 to 1907, he attended what was known as the “repeaters” school,” a supplementary school for those with unsatisfactory academic performance.
In 1907 he moved from his native village to the town of Sisak. He worked as a waiter in Ignác Štrigl”s café. There he found that he was not cut out for serving others. After a few months in the city he also started evening training at a vocational school for craftsmen as a locksmith. In 1908 he occasionally appeared as an extra in performances organized by the theater in Osijek. He became involved in the workers” movement and the Labour Day celebrations. In 1910 he joined the metal workers” union and the Social Democratic Party of Croatia and Slovenia. He learned about the existence of the party from the journeymen Smit and Gassparić, who distributed a “paper” – “Slobodna Reč (“Free Word”) and “Naša Snaga” (“Our Strength”). On November 2, 1910, he received a diploma of qualified locksmith from the hands of foreman Nikola Karas and graduated from two classes of vocational school.
At the end of 1910 he went to Zagreb. In the spring of 1911 he took part in workers” demonstrations and strikes. Having listened to the advice of his colleagues, he emigrated, first to the Slovenian Ljubljana and then to Trieste, where he did not find work. He returned to his hometown Kumrovac for a short time. In the spring of 1912 he went to Kamnik in Slovenia where he worked in a metal factory. Together with his workmates he joined the workers” organization “Sokol”, they formed their own gymnastic team and competed with the “Eagles” team. After the factory was threatened with liquidation, he left for the town of Čenkov in the Czech Republic, where he tried to get a job at the local factory. Upon arrival, it turned out that a strike had broken out at the factory, and the newly arrived workers were considered rioters. A group of Croatians quickly joined the strike to avoid further accusations. The strike was a success and the workers got raises. Tito did not work at Čenkov for long and soon moved to Plzeň to work at the Škoda automobile plant. He then went to Munich and the Ruhr area in Germany. He found work at the Benz automobile factory in Mannheim. After a month, he changed jobs again – he went to Vienna, where he worked at the bridge factory “Griedl”. Then he moved to Wiener Neustadt, where he served as a Daimler test driver. It can be seen from this that he could no longer find a place anywhere. This had to do with his aversion to manual work and his lack of any practical, professional skills. However, it had nothing to do with his alleged political activities or membership of socialist parties or organizations, since he did not belong to any such organizations until the 1920s. In 1912 he settled for a while in Vienna, where he lived on the pension of his older brother Martin. Here he had his first glimpse of the “big world”. He started dancing and piano lessons. He acquired the manners of the upper classes and began to attach great importance and love to exquisite clothes. After this, when he received a call to the army, he had to return to his hometown.
In autumn 1912, he was called up into the Austro-Hungarian army. Initially he was sent to the Imperial Royal Regiment in Vienna, where he began service in the technical artillery. He was sent to Zagreb”s 2nd Domobran regiment. At the end of the year he was admitted to the non-commissioned officer school. The captain recognized his fencing talent and ensured his participation in the military fencing competition in Budapest in May 1914, where Broz won second place; he learned these skills while active in the “Sokol” Organization. The diploma and the silver medal were presented to him by Archduke Joseph.
After the outbreak of World War I, as a soldier of the 25th Regiment of the 42nd Domobran Division, he fought on the Serbian front in two Austrian offensives. He participated in all the major battles of that campaign in western Serbia and in the famous battles on Mount Cer and over Kolubara. His division also played a very important role in the siege of Belgrade. In the campaign on the Balkan front young Broz showed great commitment as he was promoted to the rank of sergeant major in just a few months. He was the youngest soldier of this rank in the 42nd Regiment, or even, according to some, in the entire Austro-Hungarian army. For his campaign on the Serbian front he received a Small Silver Medal for Courage. The episode of his participation in the fighting against the Serbs on the Balkan front was later kept secret. Tito himself repeatedly denied it, claiming only that he had reached the Serbian border with his regiment. Yugoslav political correctness after 1945 did not allow Tito”s World War I veteran history and his participation in the fight against the Serbs to be exposed. This conflicted with his slogan ”Bratstvo i jedinstvo” – brotherhood and unity. Instead, communist propaganda attributes to him an anti-war stance that supposedly got him into the Petrovaradin fortress. This is contradicted by two facts – the only photograph of Broza from that period shows him shooting in a trench in the company of two Austro-Hungarian soldiers. All are dressed in light summer uniforms and low boots. This indicates that the photo was taken in the summer or fall during the fighting in Serbia. If it was taken already on the Russian front, where he was in winter, he would have been wearing his winter uniform. The second fact is Broza”s promotions and decorations. Rather, he did not receive them for refusing to fight at the front and being imprisoned in a fortress. In January 1915, he was sent to the eastern front in Galicia, where, during two and a half months of fighting, he was wounded first in his left arm and later severely injured from a lance blow under his left shoulder blade. In the meantime, for taking four Russian soldiers prisoner, he was awarded the medal for bravery for the second time at the request of his battalion commander. After receiving the second wound he was taken prisoner by the Russians. The command of his unit, having no news, declared him dead, which is visible on the list of the fallen announced by the Austro-Hungarian War Ministry.
After 13 months in the hospital, he was sent to the camp at Alatira in the Urals, where the prisoners chose him as their representative. On the spot, the Russians were forming a corps of Slavic volunteers. Most of the soldiers decided to go to the side of the Russians. The prisoners spent their days in drill and exercises and political training, from which it became clear that the corps was being formed on the orders of the King of Serbia. Several dozen POWs came out with their socialist views – they declared that they did not want to fight, neither for Greater Serbia nor for Greater Croatia, and if they were to fight, it would be for a united country of southern Slavs. The mutiny occurred when the captives were supposed to pledge allegiance to the King of Serbia; the soldiers preferred to fight under the orders of the Tsar of Russia. The 70 captives who protested stood up to report, among them was Broz. Serbian officers threatened to execute the protesters, but in all likelihood the execution did not take place due to the protest of the Russians.
Broz was sent to the Ardatov camp and then to work in Kalasjeev, where he worked as a locksmith. In August 1916 he was transferred to the camp in Kungur. He worked on the construction of the iron road and performed office tasks. The International Committee of the Red Cross came to the aid of the camp inmates, providing them with parcels of food, clothing and medicine. In the camp Broz met an engineer of Polish origin, Katz, with whom he participated in the meetings of the socialist group. He was imprisoned twice for socialist activities, but was released after Katz”s appeals. After the crackdown on Bolshevik sympathizers began, Broz, with the help of Katz”s son, escaped to Petrograd and began working at the Putilov Plant. There he participated in the demonstrations of July 16-17, 1917, which preceded the October Revolution. After Katz”s son was arrested, Broz had to flee Russia, ended up in Finland, but was again caught and taken to Petropavlovsk Fortress, where he stayed for three weeks until it was made clear that he was not a Bolshevik. He was sent back to the camp, but escaped from the train during the journey. He headed towards Omsk and eventually settled in the village of Mikhailovskoye, where he took up work at the local mill. In 1918, he gets married for the first time to a village girl, Piełagieja Denisovna Belousova. At the time of the wedding the bride is only 14 years old. When the Bolshevik army approached Omsk in 1919, Broz began applying for Soviet citizenship and wished (only then) to join the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks). His requests were not granted, as he was found to have previously fled from the Red Army. Finally, in the spring of 1920, he received a document allowing him to return to Croatia.
When he learned from the press about the uprising of Croatian peasants, he and his family set out for their homeland in January 1920. Upon arrival in Estonia, he met commissar Jaroslav Haszek, from whom he received documents and together with a group of Yugoslav citizens set off for his homeland on the German ship “Lilly Fuermann”. The ship arrived in Szczecin and then the Yugoslavs went to Yugoslavia via Germany and Austria. The Broz family arrived in September 1920.
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Return to Yugoslavia
Upon his arrival in Maribor, Slovenia, he was interrogated by the royal police. Due to his participation in the revolution, he was put on the list of politically suspect persons. In November Josip and Pellagija arrived in Zagreb. On the spot he was summoned to the police station, he was ordered to settle in his hometown Kumrovac. It turned out that his family house stood empty, his mother had died in 1918, and his father had moved to Kupinec, where he worked as a gamekeeper. Josip”s siblings went abroad for work. Already in Kumrovac, Plebagija gave birth to a child, who, however, died four hours after being born. Broz and his wife went to Zagreb to find work. At first he worked in the locksmith shop owned by Filip Baum. In 1921, he worked as a mechanic at Samuel Polak”s mill in the village of Veliko Trojstovo. The resourcefulness of the Broz couple and the tragedy over the death of their child caused the peasants living in the village to accept them with friendship. A Red Army veteran, Stevo Sabić, returned to the village from the front. Sabić and Broz became friends and together they sought out other Yugoslav communists. In 1923 in Bjelovar, Broz met communist Djura Segović, who had heard of Broz and Sabić”s previous revolutionary activities, and for this reason agreed to introduce them to the communist underground. Broz and Sabić scattered communist leaflets in Bjelovar and surrounding villages, through which Segović agreed to introduce them to the newly formed Communist Party.
After returning to his homeland, Josip Broz joined the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. The influence of the KPJ on the political life of the country grew very quickly. In the 1920 elections, the communists won 59 seats in parliament and became the country”s third political force. The KPJ was banned by the royal regime in 1921 and lost all its seats. At the beginning of 1921 Broz moved to Veliko Trojstva near Bjelovar and found work as a mechanic, he also continued his activities in the underground Communist Party. In 1924 he was elected to the local Communist Party office. In the same year, Sabić, Broz, and Segović were given the task of creating weapons stores and military training for the peasants to prepare them for a possible uprising. When leftist political activist Vincek Valente died in March 1925, Broz organized his funeral. The funeral was held in the cemetery in the village of Markovac. A group of workers from Bjelovar came to the funeral, and during the funeral they unfurled a banner with a hammer and sickle. On the same day, the royal security forces arrested Segović and Broz. The two activists were put in chains and led through the town, and during the route the policemen taunted and insulted them, which was meant to discredit the activists in the eyes of the locals. The two communists brought before the local court were released rather quickly because one of the judges quietly supported the communists” ideals. Despite their release, the activists were watched by agents all the time. During their stay in the village of Veliko Trojstovo, two more of their children died – two-year-old Zlatica and Hinko, who died on the eighth day after birth. In 1925, Broz, Zlatic”s two-year-old son, and his wife moved to Kraljevica, where Josip found work in a shipyard. He was elected union leader and in 1926 led a strike of shipyard workers, the strike was successful and workers got raises. In the same year he wrote his first article, which was published in the newspaper “Organized Worker”. Employers wanting to get rid of the inconvenient worker and union organizer in October fired him.
He moved to Belgrade, but could not find work there for a long time. He lived off the allowances he received from the Communist Party. In January 1927, he found work at the Jasenica train factory in Smederevska Palanka, and again began agitational activity there. He soon moved to Zagreb, worked in a locksmith shop, where he was appointed secretary of the Union of Metalworkers of Croatia, he was dismissed when his activities in the communist party were revealed. In April he became a member of the local Communist Party, and in July he was appointed secretary of the party”s Local Committee. That same year he was arrested and sent to prison, and was initially incarcerated in Ogulin. On October 28 he was sentenced to seven months in prison. The sentence was not final, and Broz was quickly released from prison in anticipation of his next trial. For this time he came to Zagreb, where he was appointed secretary of the Leather Workers” Union and political secretary of the KPJ Committee in the city. On May 1 he was imprisoned for three weeks for organizing the Labour Day celebrations. On August 2 he was appointed secretary of the District Committee of the Croatian Communist Party. Arrested on August 4, weapons, explosives, leaflets and newspapers were found in his hiding place at 46 Vinogradarska Street. Broz was betrayed by a fellow activist; in addition to Broz, fifteen other activists were imprisoned.
Communists at large organized an escape operation for the detained activists. The operation was led by Djuro Djakovic, who smuggled metal balls through a prison guard. When Broz managed to get through most of the bars, he was unexpectedly moved to another cell. In November, the trial of the communists, known as the “Bombay Trial,” took place. The trial was widely covered by the media and Tito”s words “I do not feel guilty, although I admit what the prosecutor accuses me of. But I do not recognize this court as competent, I recognize only the court of the party” went into legend. On November 14, the verdict came down, Broz was put behind bars for five years. Broz was sent to Lepoglav political prison. While in Lepoglav political prison, he met Moša Pijade, who became his ideological mentor. Lepoglava prison was one of the toughest in Yugoslavia, with poor conditions, constant sleep deprivation, minimal food, and unheated cells. While in prison, he learned that the king had abolished the National Assembly, outlawed all parties, and imposed a dictatorship. While Tito was in prison, communists organized anti-regime demonstrations that were often brutally suppressed by security forces. In 1931 he was transferred to Maribor prison. In Maribor he was placed in a group cell, could read, and began learning English. In prison he met communists such as Rodoljub Ćolaković, RadeVuković.
After his release from prison, he lived incognito and used the pseudonym “Walter”. He was ordered by the government to settle in his hometown Kumrovac and ordered to report to the police station every day. In 1934 he became a member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, and in 1934 he left for Vienna with false documents. From then on he went by the nickname “Tito,” which he took from TT. During his travels to Vienna, he often disguised himself, grew a mustache and dyed his hair, and even changed his modes of speech and gait, mostly moving with the help of smugglers shuttling between Yugoslavia and Austria. In September of that year, he attended a conference of the Communist Party of Slovenia. Vienna was not an accidental place for Tito”s departure – it was where all the members of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia were hiding. In November, Broz went to the plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia in the Czechoslovakian city of Brno. During the meeting he was appointed to work in the Comintern (Executive Secretariat for the Balkans), where he came into contact with Yugoslav activists such as Edvard Kardelj, Milovan Đilas, Aleksandar Ranković and Boris Kidrič. In 1935 Tito emigrated to the Soviet Union, where he worked for a year in the Balkan section of the Comintern and studied at the International Lenin School in Moscow. He was a member of the All-Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) and the Soviet secret police (NKVD). Tito was recruiting for the Georgi Dmitrov Battalion which was part of the International Brigades fighting in the Spanish Civil War.
He arrived in the USSR through Poland in February 1935, claiming to be Juraćek”s hairdresser. He settled in the “Lux” hotel on Gorky Street. The Executive Committee sought to unite the Yugoslav left under the banner of the KPJ. The group in Yugoslavia formed the United Workers Party, but the party was broken up and 950 of its activists and supporters were imprisoned. In the USSR, Tito met Vladimir Ćopicia Senjka, whom he soon became a close friend. Senjka was the official KP representative of Yugoslavia to the International. In a letter of recommendation to Tito written by Milan Gorkic, it was stated that Tito was an educated intellectual who represented the best part of the workers” activists. Broza”s superior (operating in Moscow under the pseudonym Walter) was the German Wilhelm Pieck, and the Balkan Secretariat had parties from Romania, Yugoslavia, Greece, and Bulgaria under its authority. During his time in the USSR, Tito met Communists such as Georgi Dmitrov, Palmiro Togliatti, Maurice Thorez, and Klement Gottwald.
Broza was horrified by the situation in Stalin”s USSR, he learned of many people being arrested and then dying without a trace. He remained cautious and refrained from talking to people he met by chance. He translated “A Short Course in the History of the VKP(b)” into Croatian. The book was published in 1938. He also lectured at the Lenin School and the Communist University. During his lectures, he met Rodoljub Ćolaković and Edward Kardelj, and he arranged a job for the latter in the International. In October 1935, Broz met Lucia Bauer, the wife of a Communist youth leader in Germany who had been sentenced to a 15-year prison term by the Nazis. Josip was joined by Pelagija and their son Źarka. Broz divorced Pelagija in 1936 and married Lucia Bauer in the fall of that year. Pelagija left the USSR in 1938 and was banned from Moscow for ten years. In the summer of 1936, the leadership of the KP of Yugoslavia met in the USSR. The KC agreed to return to Yugoslavia from Vienna. A political secretary was to remain in Vienna, for which Broza was chosen. In the fall he left the USSR and came to Vienna. After the war, there was a rumor that Tito was to stay and fight in Mexico as “companiero Vives”. He was asked about this in 1963 during his visit to Mexico. He replied, “I have heard of this before, but it is not true. I had never been to Mexico before, nor to any South American country. Nor in America at all.
After arriving in Vienna, he illegally traveled to Zagreb, Split, Bjeolvar, and Ljubljana, where he met with old friends and built up Communist structures. He stayed in the country for a period of seven months, and occasionally traveled to the Austrian capital and France (Paris was home to another KC headquarters). Together with Gorkić they prepared an expedition of volunteers from Yugoslavia to Spain. The expedition failed due to the intelligence activities of fascist Italy and difficult weather conditions.
In 1937, on the orders of Joseph Stalin, the Soviet secret service assassinated in Moscow, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, Milan Gorkic, who was accused of Trotskyism and treason, and Tito took over his post. In 1936, the Comintern sent Tito as “Comrade Walter” to Yugoslavia. As general secretary, he criticized fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. In May 1938, Tito formed the Provisional Leadership of the KP of Yugoslavia (already on the ground). Before the war, the Communist Party of Yugoslavia nearly shared the fate of the Communist Party of Poland, which had been smashed by the Stalinists. Also this party was threatened by a purge among its leaders and dissolution. At the very beginning of the war, Tito was also accused of being a Trotskyist and of collaborating with the Gestapo and the Yugoslav security services. He was probably saved by the fact that a Soviet secret service officer who formulated the accusations against Tito fell into the hands of the Nazi Gestapo intelligence service in Belgrade. Faced with the possible dissolution of the party, the KPJ adopted a Stalinist ideological course.
Between 1936 and 1941, he used documents in Yugoslavia under the names Ivan Kostanjśek and Engineer Babić. At the same time, he was given the pseudonym “Old”.
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World War II
In the late summer of 1939, he left Yugoslavia and entered the USSR. The German attack on Poland did not surprise the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, only Broz learned about it from the Soviet radio – the news was broadcast while Tito was on a ship sailing from France to the USSR. The Royal Yugoslav authorities announced that Hitler accepted borders with Yugoslavia. Tito was of the opposite opinion – he believed that “Hitlerism is not a ”friend and good neighbor,” but an avowed enemy of the freedom and independence of the peoples of Yugoslavia. Hitler resurrects the old German empire and the ideas of Kaiser Wilhelm – the continuation of the policy of “drang nach Osten” – the push eastward. This road also leads through Yugoslavia to the Aegean Sea. He is aided in this by Mussolini, who wants Dalmatia for himself…”.
During his time in the USSR, Broz wondered why the USSR authorities were happy about the conquest of Poland, as a communist he was even ready to believe that the fall of Poland was the fall of one authoritarian government, but he had doubts about the whole situation and even began to suspect that Germany had conquered Poland with the help of the USSR. He wanted to return to Yugoslavia via Istanbul. In Turkey he used a Canadian passport under the name Spiridon Mekas. However, Tito could not return to his country through Turkey because of a problem with his passport. He tried to go there by a circuitous route via an Italian ship. Again, legal problems prevented him from doing so. Eventually help came from party courier Mira Ružić (really she was Herta Has, whom Tito had first met in Paris in 1937), Ružićova forged a visa, and with her help Broz was granted a Bulgarian visa, thus returning to Yugoslavia. It was reported in the newspapers that a Canadian named Mekas had disappeared in Yugoslavia and the Italian, British and Yugoslav police were looking for him.
In 1940 he stayed in Zagreb. He was organizing the Fifth National Conference of the KPJ for the fall. At that time, for the first time, the guidelines that came from the Comintern were rejected – the international ordered Yugoslavians to focus on the class struggle – but Broz believed that the main enemy was fascism, and it was this thesis that he managed to push through at the Conference. During the World War, he worked as an engineer and used the name Kośtanjśek. He lived with his new wife Herta Has, who bore him a son, Alexander, later known as Teddy Bear. When the royal government joined the Axis states, nationwide protests began, and the people of the country considered the decision a betrayal. Tito convened the Central Committee and issued a proclamation to the Yugoslavians, calling for the defense of Yugoslavia”s independence and an alliance with the USSR (although the latter was indifferent to the Germans due to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact). Mass protests led to chaos in the country, resulting in Hitler ordering the invasion of Yugoslavia.
On April 6, 1941, German, Italian and Hungarian forces invaded Yugoslavia and occupied the entire country within a dozen days. On April 10, 1941, a representative of the fascist Croatian Ustasha, Slavko Kvaternik, proclaimed the creation of a satellite Independent State of Croatia. The response of Tito and his party to the attack against Yugoslavia by the Axis states was the establishment of a Military Committee operating within the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. On April 17, 1941, Yugoslavia capitulated. The formation of a communist resistance movement on the territory of occupied Yugoslavia began on April 28, 1941 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Tito played a leadership role in this movement from the beginning. On May 1, 1941, Tito issued a leaflet calling on the public to unite in the struggle against the occupiers. On June 27, 1941, the Central Committee of the Communist Party appointed Tito as commander-in-chief of the entire guerrilla army. The Communists began preparations to stage a nationwide uprising.
The Communists developed a plan for a National Liberation Struggle. Tito made his way to Belgrade, from where he commanded preparations to create a resistance movement. He settled on Molerova Street in the apartment of the railwayman Savić. The Communists were invigorated by the German invasion of the USSR, and Broz immediately convened the Central Committee. Opinions were divided, Milovan Djilas exclaimed: “You will see, in two months the Red Army will be in Yugoslavia!” Aleksander Ranković was of a different opinion, believing that an attack on the USSR would weaken the morale of Yugoslavia”s communists. At the time of the KC meeting, attempts were made to catch the coverage of foreign stations; Soviet and German radios blared music. They finally managed to catch the signal of a Hungarian station, which reported that the Red Army would soon be smashed. The Central Committee issued a proclamation calling for an uprising, and a similar appeal was issued by the SKOJ, a 30,000-strong youth organization. On June 28 the KPJ appointed the Main Staff of the National Liberation Partisan Troops of Yugoslavia. The staff included Edward Kardelj, Aleksander Ranković, Franc Leskośek, Ivan Milutinović, Rade Konćar (members of the party”s Central Committee), who split up and set out for different parts of the occupied country. On July 4, an uprising was called for – bonfires were lit on the mountain tops (according to the ancient Slavic custom, this was a call to fight). On July 13 the uprising in Montenegro began and after a few days Italian troops were already active in only a few towns. On July 22 an uprising broke out in Slovenia, on July 27 in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and on October 11 in Macedonia.
In September 1941, the partisans liberated the first areas of Serbia, they were in the area of Sabac and Užice. The Chief Staff of the National Liberation Partisan Troops of Yugoslavia moved to the Užička Republic – as the liberated territories were called – and with it Josip Broz, a meeting of the leaders of the uprisings from the areas of Croatia, Slovenia, Herzegovina and Bosnia took place in Stilice on September 26-27. At the meeting, the name of the Main Staff was changed to the Chief Staff, and it was reorganized into the military-political leadership of the resistance. Crowds of refugees, including women, children, and the elderly, quickly arrived in the liberated areas. The men who arrived in the territories of the Užička Republic received military training and formed combat units. Along with the refugees, self-proclaimed bands appeared, which were fought by the communists – however, their activities caused a lot of trouble for Tito, the actions of the bands were used by Nazi propaganda to discredit the partisans.
In the areas that came under the control of the partisans, organs of the resistance movement were formed – National Liberation Committees, which opened schools, distributed weapons and food, built field hospitals and took in orphans of dead comrades. Tito”s successes provoked the Nazis to launch a counteroffensive, and in order to liquidate the anti-Hitlerite uprisings, German divisions from Greece, France and the USSR were brought into the Balkans, along with collaborationists – Ustasha, Chetniks, Domobrans and Nedits. Despite the repression, the resistance continued to grow, and by the end of 1941 the partisans numbered 80,000 men, fighting against 400,000 Axis troops. In the face of a large German offensive, Tito offered the Chetniks a sizeable number of weapons produced in the factory in Užičy. The talks were halted by the advance of Nazi troops. Tito ordered the evacuation of factories, weapons warehouses, and staff documentation. The wounded and sick were evacuated from the republic and food and medicines were taken out of the republic. The sizable sums of guerrilla money, 55 million dinars were packed into 103 sacks that were hidden. Broz left the city in the face of the inevitable defeat of the troops defending it. He and some of his troops retreated to Zlatibor. The Germans soon began to attack the town, were repulsed, and Tito retreated to Ćajetina, on the way taking in over 30,000 troops, who managed to withdraw from the republic. The defense of the town was not acknowledged in the Western media, instead the radio broadcast announcements about the activities of the Chetniks operating on a much smaller scale.
Tito combined war-making with revolution. The tactic was to build the organs of revolutionary power on the basis of the people”s liberation committees fighting the occupiers. Tito pursued this strategy independently of the other parties of the communist movement, thereby rejecting the Popular Front policy advocated by most parties of the time. Tito believed that the Popular Front had contributed to the defeat of the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War – “The lesson that emerged from the Spanish Civil War, that a new revolutionary government must be built from below, stood at the center of the policy then pursued by the Communist Party.” To Tito”s new strategy, the Comintern leadership was critical. In liberated territories, partisans organized people”s committees to act as civilian governments. Tito was the best known leader of the Anti-Fascist Council for the National Liberation of Yugoslavia – AVNOJ, which met in Bihac on November 26, 1942 and in Jajec on November 29, 1943. During these two sessions the foundations of the post-war Yugoslav federal state were laid down. In Jajec, Tito was elected president of the AVNOJ. On December 4, 1943, although most of the country was still under occupation, Broz proclaimed the provisional democratic government of Yugoslavia. A 67-member “presidency” was elected in Jajec and a nine-member National Liberation Committee was established to serve as the provisional government; the government included five Communists. Tito became the president of the National Liberation Committee.
Certain rules were introduced in the ranks of the partisan army – for example, it was forbidden to drink alcohol (it was said that Tito”s partisans could be recognized by the fact that they did not reek of rakija like the rival Chetniks and Ushtashe, except in severe winters, during which Broz himself ordered that the alcohol from the captured supplies be distributed). Severe punishments for theft were also introduced; in cases where civilians were robbed, the thief-partisan could even be punished with death. As one of the first armies in the history of Yugoslavia, the partisans accepted women as equals. Tito believed that women were not only fighting against occupiers, but were also fighting for their equality. It was forbidden to have sex while serving in the partisan army, hence there could not be a married couple in one unit, but flirting or mutual love without sexual contact was allowed (this was in accordance with folk tradition, according to which the time of war was a time of mourning, during which sexual relations were withheld).
Beginning on May 13, 1941, Tito and his partisans had to compete with the stronger Royal Yugoslav Army in the homeland of General Dragoljub “Draža” Mihailović otherwise known as the Chetniks (the Chetniks were already formed after the Titoists began their military activities). The Chetniks enjoyed the support of Britain, the United States, and the Yugoslav government in exile of King Peter II. Tito believed that an agreement should be reached with the Chetniks and offered Mihailović to fight together against Germany. Despite the conflict with the Chetniks, Tito”s partisans liberated some areas, especially in the area of the “Užička Republic” proclaimed by the partisans. On September 19 and October 27, 1941, Tito held unsuccessful talks with the leader of the Chetnik forces, Draža Mihailović. After one of the meetings, a group of Chetnik officers attempted an arbitrary assassination attempt on Broza; the assassins were stopped by Mihailović.
Tito ordered conscription into the army. The communist guerrilla movement soon began to achieve success in successive guerrilla campaigns and gradually liberated Yugoslav territory. The actions of the partisans provoked the Germans to take revenge on civilians. It manifested itself in mass murders (the death of each German soldier resulted in the murder of 100 civilians, for each wounded person 50 were killed). From December 21, 1941, partisans began to form the first Brigades, the first of which was the First Proletarian Brigade with commander Koca Popović. The First Proletarian Brigade won its first battle just four days after its formation. The soldiers of the Brigade smashed three columns of Italian troops and one Chetnik column near the town of Ruda. The smashing of the columns destroyed the effects of Nazi and Chetnik propaganda, according to which the partisan forces within Serbia were to be destroyed after the destruction of the Užica Republic.
The First Proletarian Brigade crossed into Bosnia. Against the partisans, the Germans sent anti-partisan forces. The offensive lasted from January 17-23, 1942 and was joined by Ustasha, Domobran and Chetnik troops. Following Broza”s order, the First Brigade split into two groups – one went to Jahorina and the other to Trnova. Tito himself took part in the march called the “Igman March” – due to the harsh weather conditions, many of the marchers died, the temperature dropped to -32 degrees Celsius. The guerrillas found shelter in the forests of Igman. A battalion of the First Proletarian Brigade together with groups of Montenegrin soldiers liberated the towns of Foća and Ćajenicia. These were another of the liberated areas. Waves of refugees quickly arrived in the new areas. Tito”s unit marched to Ćajenica across the frozen Lim River. On March 1, 1942, Tito formed the Second Proletarian Assault Brigade. Tito”s troops were joined by 2,000 Jews rescued from the Holocaust. The beginning of spring resulted in the formation of new troops, many of the new recruits came from the Chetniks, who began to desert and go over to the Communist side. The Communists formed the Yugoslav Volunteer Army. The Chief Staff of the National Liberation Partisan Troops of Yugoslavia was reorganized into the Chief Staff of the National Liberation Troops and Volunteer Troops of Yugoslavia. At the end of March, the third consecutive Axis offensive was launched. Tito ordered the withdrawal of troops toward Montenegro. They found new refuge in Tjentiśte-Kalinovnik.
Outside the combat areas of Tito”s unit, the communists fought heavy battles in Dalmatia and Slovenia. A particularly bloody battle took place in the Kozara Mountains, where the resistance formed a free territory. 70,000 Germans went on the anti-apartheid offensive, while the partisans numbered only 4,000 (they also protected 100,000 civilians). 20,000 people evacuated, many of them killed in pacifications and deportations to death camps.
The figure of Tito was shrouded in mystery, and the guerrilla leader himself would not give his real name. New York Times columnist C. Leo Sulzberger wrote on December 5, 1943, that there was much dispute over whether Tito was a real or fictional character. According to Sulzberger”s account, his rivals spread a rumor according to which he was supposed to be Lebedev, the pre-war counselor of the USSR embassy in Belgrade. This rumor turned out to be false after it was revealed that Lebedev had left Yugoslavia with the royal government and settled in Moscow after fleeing the country. According to another version, Tito was supposed to be Kosta Nadja, but as it turned out Nadja was only a general in Tito”s army. Sulzberger reported that perhaps Tito was Mosa Pijade, a Serbian communist and painter of Jewish origin. Pijade had been imprisoned by the royal authorities before the war. According to yet another theory, Tito was supposed to be a woman. The thesis according to which Tito was not supposed to exist at all assumed that he was an abbreviation of an organization – the Secret Internationalist Terrorist Organization.
The Germans, in order to discredit Tito among the Yugoslavs, claimed that Tito was Russian, and this claim was even picked up by the Americans. The leader of the Chetniks and Tito”s rival, Dragoljub Mihailović, provided the Chetnik police with a photograph of Tito and a photograph of Counsellor Lebedev, asking if they were two of the same personages. The answer of the Belgrade police was negative. Agents of the Gestapo, the Abwehr and the Italian secret service, but also Chetniks and Ustasha, tortured captured members of the resistance in order to extract from them information about Tito”s true identity. Tito gradually became the stuff of legends, many of which found their way into underground newspapers and, after liberation, into memoirs. The first to find out who Tito was were the Nazis. This happened when the Ushtashe kidnapped a communist activist who, under torture, revealed the resistance leader”s real name to the Nazis. It is currently difficult to determine whether Tito learned of this event, although on December 22, 1942, Tito publicly introduced himself at a rally in the liberated Bosnian town of Cazin. In May and June 1943, during the battle in the Zalengora area and the Sutjeski River valley, the Germans portrayed Tito as a Bolshevik agent in their propaganda. Heinrich Himmler issued letters of introduction after Tito placed in the occupation press: A reward of 100,000 reichsmarks in gold will be given to whoever delivers Communist leader Tito, dead or alive. This criminal has thrown the country into the greatest misery. As a Bolshevik agent, this ownerless churchman, thief and roadside robber wanted to organize a Soviet republic in the country. To this end, he proclaimed that he was called to “liberate” the nation. To carry out this intention he prepared himself during the Spanish Civil War and in the Soviet Union, where he learned all the terrorist methods of the GPU, the methods of cultural desecration and the bestial destruction of human life. This “liberation action” of his, which was to pave the way for Bolshevism, that most dangerous political regime in the world – took the property, welfare and lives of thousands of people. It destroyed the peace of the peasants and the bourgeoisie, and threw the country into incomprehensible poverty and misery. Destroyed churches and burned villages are the traces of its march. For these reasons this bandit, dangerous to the country, is estimated at 100,000 reichsmarks in gold. Whoever proves that he has neutralized this criminal or hands him over to the nearest German authorities will not only receive a reward of 100,000 reichsmarks in gold, but will also have done a patriotic deed – because he will have liberated the nation and the homeland from a bloody terrorist.
After the release of the handbills, Tito”s image was released to the public for the first time. This move did not turn out to be beneficial for the Nazis because the public saw Tito”s face for the first time and this dispelled rumors denying the existence of the communist partisan. There is a well-known statement by the writer and poet Ivo Andrić, who in a conversation with Professor Vasa Ćubrilović stated: “What a noble revolutionary face this man has! The Germans have done him a great service by publishing his image.” Tito became a target of the Axis forces in occupied Yugoslavia. The Germans had three opportunities to kill him. In 1943, in Operation White Variant (Fall Weiss), then in Operation Black Variant (Fall Schwarz), during which Tito was wounded on June 9 (he owed his rescue to his dog), and on May 25, 1944, during Operation Chesshorse Jump (Unternehmen Rösselsprung), an airborne landing near the Partisan command headquarters in Drvar. His assassination and the Axis offensive were linked to the possibility of an Allied invasion of the Balkans.
In early June, the Partisans sent a telegram to the Communist International demanding that the USSR withdraw its support for the Chetniks. The partisans received a refusal – for the USSR could not criticize or stop supporting forces loyal to the government with which they maintained an alliance (the Royal Yugoslav Government in Exile). Tito sent another telegram on June 21; in it, the Montenegrin partisans reported the treachery and collaboration carried out by the Chetniks. On July 6-7 the contents of the telegram were presented on the radio “Slobodna Jugoslavija”. On 21 July, a reprint of the telegram was placed in the Swedish Communists” magazine, “Ny Dag”. After publication in the Swedish newspaper, reprints appeared in newspapers in the Americas, Australia, and New Zealand (these were the main concentrations of emigrants from Yugoslavia). The Chetniks were even criticized by the bulletin of the USSR embassy in London. On August 3, the USSR handed a note to the deputy representing Yugoslavia stating that the Chetniks were German collaborators. On August 56, the Yugoslav Royal Yugoslav Government-in-Exile submitted notes of protest to the US and Canada – stating that newspapers there were constantly attacking the minister and General Draza Mihailović. In the last days of December, the representative of the USSR in a conversation with Anthony Eden raised the issue of collaboration of Chetniks with fascist forces. On January 11, 1943, Anthony Eden demanded that the Yugoslav royal government-in-exile force the Chetniks to stop fighting against the partisans and that the Chetniks begin fighting against German troops.
Allied leaders stopped supporting the Chetniks, the British withdrew support for them even before the Soviets officially recognized the Yugoslav communists as the only allies in the country, the reason for the British decision was the Chetniks” policy of collaboration. Yugoslav King Peter II and President Franklin Roosevelt joined Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in officially recognizing Tito and his partisans at the Tehran Conference. As a result of this political reorientation of the Western Allies, Tito”s partisans began to receive support from them as well. On June 17, 1944, on the Dalmatian island of Vis, the “Treaty of Vis” (viski sporazum, also known as the Tito-Šubašić Agreement), which merged Tito”s government with that of the exiled King Peter II. The guerrillas were supported directly by Allied paratroopers assigned to their command staff headed by Brigadier Fitzroy Maclean, but cooperation between them and Tito was very difficult. In June 1944, the Allies also established the Balkan Air Force, which took off from Italy to provide support to the Yugoslav fighters.
Even during the war, the first Tito-Stalin clashes occurred. The Yugoslavs, against the advice of the USSR, refused to form an alliance with the Chetniks, and there was even fighting between the two groups. At the end of 1943, against Stalin”s demands, the parliament organized by the Communist resistance movement in practice proclaimed a republic and formed a provisional government. The secretary of the KW of the Communist International, Dmytro Manujilski, reported that “The host is extremely furious. He thinks this is a stab in the back of the USSR and the decisions made in Tehran.” The Stalinist bureaucracy in the USSR did not want there to be a revolution in Yugoslavia or any other country; according to Moscow”s strategy, first Red Army troops had to enter a country and only then would a communist government be established there – this was to be a guarantee that the USSR would maintain control in that country.
On September 12, 1944, King Peter II called on all Yugoslavs to recognize Tito”s government and stated that those who opposed the partisans were “traitors.” Within a short time, Tito, as Prime Minister of Yugoslavia, was recognized by all Allied governments (including the government in exile). On September 28, 1944, the Soviet agency TAAS reported that Tito had signed an agreement allowing Soviet troops to enter Yugoslav territory to defeat Axis forces in the northeastern areas of Yugoslavia. By the end of the war, the partisans had formed a regular army of 800,000 men. Aided by the Red Army, the partisans liberated their country in 1945.
Yugoslavia”s communist partisans also established relations with Albanian partisans. In Kosovo, which was divided into Albanians and Serbs, there were pro-Albanian and Greater Serb partisan units that were hostile to Tito”s troops (they fought each other). Blaźo Jovanović became the military advisor to the Albanian communists.
In May 1942 the first partisan planes appeared – pilots Rudi Ćajavec and Franjo Kluz and mechanic Milutin Jazbec hijacked a Nazi Potez-25 from a military airfield. The day the plane was hijacked (May 15) was recognized after the war as Yugoslav aviation holiday. During the summer, the Partisan navy was established, the first naval base was established in Podgor, and its headquarters was also established next to it. The guerrilla fleet initially consisted of several boats and dugouts armed with machine guns. The boats were used during the liberation of the Adriatic islands. The boats were used during the famous action of rescuing civilian inhabitants of the Dalmatian coast threatened by the German offensive after the Italian surrender. Thousands of civilians from the coast were evacuated to the islands and then to Brindisi, from where they were transported to Egypt by the Polish ship “Batory”. The Supreme Staff and Tito moved to Glamoć in Bosanska Krai. More areas were liberated on the spot. After reaching the Adriatic coast, the base was moved to Bihać. In the areas liberated by the partisans, local elections were held (the liberated areas already numbered 15 territories in all of Yugoslavia). In early 1942, the first divisions and corps were formed. In June, the Third, Fourth and Fifth Proletarian Brigades operating in Montenegro and Sandzak were established by order of Broz. The partisan movement spread throughout the country. Partisans fought regular battles with the Germans, collaborators were killed. More and more areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina were liberated. Yugoslav flags with red stars were hung in free territories, and portraits of Allied leaders Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin were hung in offices. On November 1, 1942, Tito created the National Liberation Army of Yugoslavia – from then on, Tito”s troops were no longer seen as a guerrilla movement, but as an army. At a congress on November 26-27, partisan delegates gathered in the town of Bihać; the meeting decided to form a quasi-government of the Anti-Fascist Council for the National Liberation of Yugoslavia. Against the creation of the government protested the USSR which through the Communist International sent a note “not to create anything that would be in opposition to the government in exile in London”.
In Tito”s army, for the first time in the history of Yugoslavia, there were women who joined combat units and also worked as couriers and in secret printing houses. On Tito”s direct initiative, the Anti-Fascist Women”s Front was formed. At the turn of 1942 and 1943, Tito became involved with Davorjanka Paunović, although he still regretted his separation from Herta.
In December 1942, Tito published an article outlining his vision of a future Yugoslavia. The article appeared in the newspaper Proleter, which was the organ of the Communists of Yugoslavia. Tito rejected a Yugoslavia full of national antagonisms and promised the creation of a Yugoslavia free of nationalism and united. The watchwords of this vision were the cries “Smrt faśizmu – Sloboda narodu!” and “Bratstvo i Jedinstvo”.
In December 1942, the communist forces numbered 150,000 soldiers. They fought against 930,000 soldiers of the occupying forces.
January 20, 1943 saw the fourth Nazi offensive against the partisans. The offensive was launched under the name “Weiss”. To fight against the partisans went 130 thousand soldiers of the Axis countries. Originally the offensive was to last until March 24, but was extended to April. The aim of the operation was to liquidate the Bihaćka Republic and the partisan movement in Dalmatia, Kordun and Croatia. The operations of the operation began in the Kordun area. Before the offensive, about 80,000 people fled from the Croatian territories to Bosnia. Already after the first strike the Germans entered the Bosnian territories. Against the German forces in Bosnia stood 20 thousand soldiers of Tito. The Supreme Staff decided to evacuate the partisans in the direction of Neretva. Along with the troops, the Central Hospital was evacuated, which housed four thousand people at the time.
The evacuation was prevented by the Chetnik army. On the right bank, Mihailović fielded a Chetnik army of 18,000 partisans against the fleeing partisans. Surrounded by Germans, Italians and Chetniks, they decided to strike at the Italian army. In clashes with the Italians they managed to get machine guns and artillery and a bus which was used to evacuate the hospital.
Long battles occurred in the Neretva and Rama valleys. The Yugoslavs used 120 mm howitzers against the Germans. The Chetniks came to the aid of the retreating Nazis. In order to prevent the Chetniks from reaching the valley, Tito ordered the iron bridge near Jablanica to be blown up, and the partisans themselves moved to evacuate further. Tito ordered the placement of wooden footbridges on the river, which were used to evacuate the wounded and sick. Upon hearing of the battles on the Neretva and Rama rivers, other partisan units throughout the country launched attacks on German formations, the aim of which was to force the Germans to stop pursuing the evacuated Croatians. Railroad tracks and bridges were blown up and ambushes were organized. The evacuation was again halted after reaching the Drina. On the spot, the partisans fought a two-day battle with the Italians and Chetniks. Tito”s troops managed to swim across the river and attack the enemies by surprise. After the battle was won, the wounded and civilians scattered to the surrounding villages, and the partisan forces marched towards the liberated areas. On April 17, three groups of Canadian commandos of Yugoslav origin arrived in Yugoslavia. The Canadians were to investigate reports of Chetnik collaboration and assist Tito”s troops in the fight. Along with the commandos, three representatives of the US and British governments arrived in Yugoslavia. The Comintern also promised to help the Yugoslavs; according to a dispatch from the International, the British government agreed to organize the transfer of British volunteers to Yugoslavia, among the volunteers were activists of the Communist Party of Great Britain.
After the end of Operation Weiss, Tito”s Supreme Staff decided to attack the partisans in Macedonia, Kosovo and southern Serbia. The wounded from the battle of Neretva were deployed in field hospitals in Ćelebić. The Germans were ahead of the Yugoslavs and planned a new anti-apartheid operation as early as March. The German offensive was launched under the name “Schwarz” (black). Upon hearing of the German troop movements, Tito decided to move Yugoslav troops into the Bosnian area. The Supreme Staff moved towards Tjentiśte and Zelengora, the Staff was attacked by the Wehrmacht with the participation of the Luftwaffe and artillery. Tito decided that the troops would concentrate in the triangle between Neretva and Sutjeska. The attack on the Neretva-Sutjeska triangle was launched by combined divisions of collaborators (including Chetniks, who already on May 11 received instructions from the government in exile, in which they were ordered to break off cooperation with the occupiers), Germans, Bulgarians and Italians. On 15 May, the partisans received a dispatch from the USSR, in which they were informed about the liquidation of the Comintern, which was officially carried out “due to the radical change in the situation that occurred during the Second World War in the balance of power of the communist parties in various countries, especially those fighting Hitlerism and fascism”. In practice, the Comintern and its activists were uncomfortable in USSR-Western contacts. Tito was shocked by the decision to dissolve the International, but he had no time to protest – at the same moment the battle of Sutjeska began. 127,000 Axis troops went into battle against the Yugoslavs; Tito”s troops numbered only 19,700. Initially, Tito wanted to evacuate to central Bosnia, but partisan reconnaissance encountered strong German troops there. When the partisans were cut off from the evacuation route, Tito decided to concentrate the troops in the Sutjeski valley. To help the partisans the British sent Major William Stuart and Captain William Deakin. The bloodiest battles were fought from June 6 to 8. After the offensive was broken, Tito ordered the main troops to evacuate to Sandzak. Once south, the forces were to clear an evacuation route for the wounded and the Executive Committee of the Anti-Fascist Council. Tito himself, along with the troops loyal to him, marched north. The purpose of this operation was to distract the Germans from launching an assault on Sandzak. Tito took personal command of the First Proletarian Assault Brigade. The brigade broke the encirclement on June 10. As a result of the German air raid were wounded – William Deakin and Tito, William Stuart died on the spot. As a result of the wounds, gas gangrene entered Tito”s body.
In the battle, 1,300 wounded partisans of the Third Proletarian Division died as a result of German massacres. The Germans murdered 30 doctors and 300 nurses. 6,000 Yugoslav soldiers were killed in the clashes. After the battle Tito sent two dispatches to the USSR, in the first he informed about the course of the battle and in the second about the death of Major Stuart. The stories of the partisans” hard-fought battles reached the Allies. Winston Churchill decided to give the partisans more financial and military aid. On June 27, a mission of Allied troops led by Canadian Major William Johnson reached the NOV General Staff in Slovenia. Three days after that, British planes dropped explosive charges and a commando unit in Bosnia. Tito and his staff stayed in a cave near Kladanj. At that time, 20 resistance divisions were located in Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia. In May, Tito decided to grant non-commissioned officer and officer ranks.
On July 10, the Allies landed in Sicily, and Italian troops quickly surrendered to the Allied forces. Upon hearing of the invasion of Italy, many Italian soldiers surrendered to the partisans only to return to their homeland. On July 15, a meeting was held between the Central Committee of the CP of Yugoslavia and the Chief of Staff. It was agreed that the leadership would move from eastern Bosnia to Bosanska Krajina. Tito asked the USSR for military assistance, through the Soviet radio “Slobodna Jugoslavija”. He also called on Italian soldiers to surrender and go over to the resistance side. The partisans” situation was improved by the events of July 25, when the Fascist Grand Council dismissed Benito Mussolini and he himself was arrested. Surprised by this situation, the Germans ordered the dispatch of Army Group F to Yugoslavia. A general strike was organized in Ljubljana, Slovenia, which turned into an open anti-Italian uprising.
The royal government-in-exile drew up the “Plan for the Liberation of Yugoslavia,” which involved landing troops loyal to the king on the Adriatic coast and taking action against the occupiers to overshadow Tito”s successes. However, the plan did not come to fruition because the Western Allies considered these plans unrealistic and adventurous. As a result of Western interference, the Prime Minister of the Royal Government was dismissed and Boźidar Purić was appointed as the new Prime Minister. In Switzerland, the exiles formed the Committee for the National Liberation of Yugoslavia. Thousands of volunteers poured into Yugoslavia from all over Europe, and more troops were raised from Yugoslavians. From liberated Vojvodina, transports containing clothing, medicines, and food were brought to Bosnia. All of these things given to the resistance came from voluntary donations by civilians sympathetic to the partisans. Tito”s army looked less and less like a guerrilla and more and more like a regular army. Tito even instituted military decorations – National Hero, Partisan Star, National Liberation, For Courage and For Bravery.
With the successive defeats of the Axis forces to the partisan side went whole units of collaborators. In Zagorje, the entire Varadzinski Artillery Regiment went over to the side of the resistance along with its officers. In Slavonia, the “Jan Žižka” Battalion was formed from volunteers from Czechoslovakia, German volunteers formed the “Ernst Thalmann” Battalion, and Hungarian volunteers formed the “Sándor Petőfi” Battalion. Tito presented the Italian troops in Slovenia with two demands: they were to stop fighting the partisans and move to fight the Nazis, or they were to leave Yugoslavia and hand over their weapons to the partisan units.
On August 17, in the city of Quebec, Canada, there was a meeting between the US President and the British Prime Minister. At the meeting, the situation in the Balkans was discussed. A new initiative was agreed upon to reconcile the Communists and Chetniks – both armies were to fight only in the area they controlled. Britain decided to send 40 planes with arms supplies to the Yugoslavians.
The Italian army capitulated on September 8. Partisan units disarmed the Italians in Slovenian territory and there were battles between communists and Slovenian fascists from the White and Blue Guards. In general, Italian commanders rejected offers to go over to the Yugoslav side. In contrast to the command, ordinary Italian soldiers and lower officers eagerly joined the partisan movement and began fighting the Nazis. The “Mateotti” battalion and the “Garibaldi” division were formulated from Italian anti-Nazi volunteers. According to Paolo Mieli, in Istria, where there was ethnic fighting, the partisans killed about 5,000 Italians, and threw their bodies into karst throats called fojba.
With the capitulation of the Italians, a free territory was created in Slovenia, while a national liberation uprising broke out in the Primorja regions. The Yugoslav army numbered 20 divisions with 120,000 men. At this point, the guerrilla leader considered the need to form the Anti-Fascist Council for the National Liberation of Yugoslavia. At first he feared that if he formed this body he would be accused by the Western Allies and the USSR of arbitrariness. In September the Germans sent 600,000 troops, including collaborators, against his forces. On September 19, the sixth Nazi offensive began and lasted until the following January. The day before, Tito met with representatives of the Western military mission (the US and Britain). The German offensive covered areas from Udine to Trieste, Ljubljana, Karlovac and the Croatian border. It is likely that the new offensive was planned and approved by Adolf Hitler himself. Contrary to the predictions of their command, the Germans did not succeed in smashing the partisans who had seized large numbers of arms and supplies after the capitulation of Italy. According to Tito”s own account in October, the KPJ had 20,000 members. Tito rejected the Allies” plan to land a regular army in Yugoslavia, arguing that such a plan was militarily unrealistic. At the same time, the communist leader protested against the transfer of four Liberator bombers from the USA to the Royal Government. He also demanded that the Allies return the weapons and ships that the Italian army had seized two years earlier.
In the fall of 1943, he formed the Balkan Staff, which he headed. The Staff was to take command of the entire resistance movement in the country. Tito sent the Serbian Svetozar Vukmanović Tempo to Macedonia, Metohija and Kosovo to establish contact with the resistance there and with the KPJ. Tempo proposed to the partisans there to recognize the Supreme Staff as merely the supreme command of the partisans throughout the Balkans. The plan was accepted by most of the commanders. The Albanians supported the plan, while the Greeks said that the Staff should have a collective command consisting of four commissioners and commanders. Tempo promised the Greeks that the Staff would assist them in fighting against the British in case the latter wanted to retain their influence in the country. Presumably the Greeks notified the USSR government of this promise, which immediately reprimanded Tito. Tito, not wishing to lose Allied support, sent a telegram to Tempo informing him that he was no longer his plenipotentiary and that the Staff would not be formed. During the same period, he picked up the Albanian leader Enver Hoxha”s project to create a Balkan Federation after the war. According to Tempo”s postwar memoirs, the plan included the creation of a federation encompassing Greece, the Balkans, and parts of Turkey in Europe. Josip Broz was to be the president of the federation. This idea was abandoned after the harsh intervention of Great Britain.
For the first time since the outbreak of the war, the U.S. press gave a positive assessment of the work of the resistance in the multinational country. In mid-November, the New York Times wrote about how the Titoist forces were the only ones fighting the occupiers on Yugoslav territory. In the small town of Jajce, Bosnia, a meeting of delegates of the Anti-Fascist National Liberation Council of Yugoslavia from across the country was held. Not all participants managed to get to the congress due to manhunts organized by the Germans (142 out of 286 delegates managed to get there). During the meeting, the National Committee for the Liberation of Yugoslavia was established as a central state authority. The delegates decided to strip the government-in-exile of its rights to represent the nation outside the borders, and the king was forbidden to return. In order not to confer with the West, it was agreed that the question of the future regime of the country would be decided by the people after the war. As for the new Yugoslavia, it was agreed that it would be an equal federation of nations, and it was decided that the disputed areas of the Slovenian peninsula, the Istrian peninsula and Croatian towns, as well as the islands in the Adriatic occupied by Italy, would be annexed to the state. A commission was set up to prosecute criminals. The Council decided to introduce compulsory military service for men between the ages of 18 and 50 (women could also volunteer to join the army). In return for Tito”s contribution to the resistance movement and the fight against the Germans, Josip Vidmar (the Slovenian delegate) proposed that the other participants award Tito the rank of marshal, which was met with approval. During the council, one of the most famous portraits depicting Broza was created by Boźidar Jakac. The meeting resulted in the creation of the foundations of the new Yugoslavia, and the positions of ministers (information, education, economy, finance, communications, economic reconstruction, social policy, supplies, forests, minerals, judiciary, interior and foreign affairs) and deputy prime ministers of the government were filled. Broz became president of the council of ministers. In addition, there was a Yugoslav parliament.
Soon after the meeting of the partisans, a Tehran conference was held, at which it was decided to increase aid to the partisans – supplies were increased, a Red Army mission was sent to the country and they were supported by commando actions. The conference did not resolve the issue of the country”s western border (Broz demanded the expansion of Yugoslavia”s territory). To win influence among the Big Three, the Yugoslav envoy, secretary of the Union of Communist Youth of Yugoslavia, Ivo Lole Ribar, flew to Cairo on 27 November. Ribar had taken up the post of special delegate of the Supreme Staff to the Allied Command. Before the plane took off, there was an unexpected air raid in which Ribar was killed. Tito also established a news agency, TANJUG – Telegraphic Agency of New Yugoslavia headed by Vladislav Ribnikarov and Mosa Pijadei. Tito returned to the idea of sending a Yugoslav mission to Egypt in December. At its head this time was Vladimir Velebita. Velebita made the first official contact with the Allied governments. That month, the Allies, eager to test the Chetniks, requested through Wilson that Chetnik troops, in order to impede Nazi coordination, blow up two bridges heading south into the country. The Chetniks disobeyed this order, leading the Allies to believe that the Chetniks were collaborating with the occupiers all along. While in Cairo, Churchill met with the King of Yugoslavia and the exiled Prime Minister Bozidar Puricia. Churchill told them that the Titoists were the main force in Yugoslavia and demanded that the government-in-exile break with the Chetniks because of their policy of collaboration. After the government-in-exile lost the support of the British, its representatives turned to the USSR, but that country”s ambassador, after consultation with Moscow, declared that he had to refuse the government-in-exile. According to the official position of London, the king and Tito were supposed to communicate and form a united front, while knowing that the pro-British king no longer had any influence on the situation in the country. The British government sought to retain its influence over Yugoslavia”s internal politics – the aim of this policy was to have Broza agree to free elections after liberation. The British continued to recognize the government in exile, but withdrew their support for the Chetniks.
On December 20 of that year, the British War Cabinet demanded that the King of Yugoslavia join the Chief Staff of the Partisans and form a joint government without the Chetnik leader. The British proposal was initially refused by Broz himself, seven days later he announced in a statement that the king would cease to be fought if he cut himself off from the Chetniks. At the same time Mihailović himself declared his desire to end the attacks on the partisans and begin talks with the partisans (with the participation of observers from Britain), British intelligence, recognizing that it was too late for an agreement with the Chetniks, refused to participate in mediation between the quarreling groups. Churchill also ended the operation of the military mission to the Chetniks. When Churchill became ill, Broz sent him a telegram wishing him good health, and the pleasantly surprised prime minister ordered his foreign minister to demand that Purić finally break off contacts with the Chetniks. The then reluctant Tita minister, Anthony Eden, appealed to the prime minister to demand a guarantee from Tita to hold talks with the king. A short-lived dispute began between the prime minister and the minister, which ended after Churchill sent a letter to Tita under the pretext of thanking him for his good wishes, assuring him that Britain would not influence the composition of the post-war government. The letter to the partisan leader was handed by a British expedition that landed in Yugoslavia on January 20, 1944. The expedition included the son of British Prime Minister Randolph Churchill. The expedition was also to force the return of the king to Yugoslavia and to ease the conflict with the Chetniks.
At that point, Tito expected an army loyal to the government-in-exile (and therefore hostile to the Communists) to land in Yugoslavia, supported by the Polish troops of Wladyslaw Anders, but as it turned out, this mission failed because the Yugoslav pilots turned out to hold a pro-Titoist position hostile to the government-in-exile. The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia convened at the end of January, and delegates sent a letter to party leaders throughout the country asking for a change of attitude toward the U.S. and Great Britain in the party press. The new course assumed a positive attitude toward the Western Allies; at the same time, praise of the USSR was forbidden. Instead of extensive information on the actions on the Soviet front, there was to be information on the battles on the other fronts, and local newspapers were to deal only with central affairs, leaving international issues to central journals. In February Broz offered the British some conditions for cooperation with Peter II – the government in exile would be dissolved, General Mihailović would be resigned, the Allies would recognize the partisan power structures, and the monarch himself would accept the decisions of the Second Meeting of the Anti-Fascist Council. At the end of the month, Churchill, during a parliamentary debate, praised the Yugoslavs who fought against Germany and described Tita as a celebrated leader. The prime minister stated that he was willing to agree to Tito”s terms if Tito agreed to return the king to the country and form a government with him (a hypothetical prime minister was to be Tito). In the same month, a USSR military mission headed by Nikolai Korneev arrived in Yugoslavia via Egypt, Algeria, and Italy. On February 27, the U.S. mission with Richard Vilem arrived.
In the winter of 1944, another conflict erupted between the guerrillas and the government in exile. After Broz learned that the government wanted to dispose of the financial deposit of the National Bank of Yugoslavia, he sent his objections to the banks in Rio De Janeiro and Ankara and to the government of Great Britain. Broz stipulated that the government in exile had no right to dispose of the deposits, and that the only right to do so was with the National Bank operating in areas liberated by the guerrillas. The intervention of the guerrillas was the only one recognized by the Brazilian bank, which blocked $11250,000. After the crisis, Churchill convened a council of ministers devoted to Yugoslavia. The Prime Minister proposed the formation of a new government in exile and a change of Chetnik leadership – this was to be done through a coup within the Chetnik army. After persuasion from the British, Peter II decided that the government-in-exile would be replaced by a smaller government with members acceptable to Broza. Despite some concessions, Tito lost confidence in the British and again turned to the USSR for help, this time asking for support for the divisions fighting in Zlatibor. As he wrote in a letter to Dmitrov In our opinion, the British are sabotaging us and not giving supplies to these divisions because they are moving into Serbia and fighting not only against the Germans, but also Nedic”s soldiers and Mihailovic”s Chetniks. On March 18, Nikolai Patraltsev”s Soviet advisers arrived in Slovenia to help Tito. The reason for this change was foul play by British intelligence – the service was to advise King Peter not to dismiss the government. He then demanded that the British send back the Croats and Slovenes who had been forcibly conscripted into the Italian army and placed in Allied prisoner-of-war camps. The next step was to send a dispatch informing the British Prime Minister that he would not accept the return of the monarch to the country in order to form a coalition government, but instead proposed that Peter return to the country and join the guerrilla army to redeem himself for the damage he had caused to the Yugoslavs. In order to appease the partisans, Foreign Minister Eden agreed that the moderate Ivan Subaśić would become prime minister of the government in exile.
During the dispute, the Nazis launched another offensive, in which they occupied the Adriatic coast, and the only free enclave remained the island of Vis (thanks to the support of the British fleet), the purpose of the action was to prevent the Western Allies from carrying out the landing. The Germans increased the terror – they burned whole villages and mass murdered hostages. Due to the famine, Tito sent a telegram to UNRRA asking for more supplies for civilians, but was denied, UNRAA stating that it could only consider requests from the Prime Minister of the government in exile (and he did not make a request). Although the West did not provide civilian aid, it agreed to increase supplies of military equipment. In an interview with the Associated Press Agency, Marshall announced the establishment of a planned economy. Foreign relations were to be based on good relations with the U.S., the USSR, and Great Britain, while claiming that Past experience showed how much and how dearly the people of Yugoslavia paid for foreign powers to meddle in their domestic and foreign policies. This led to international complications, clashes and finally war, and he announced that Yugoslavia would pursue an independent policy.
He had been in Drvar, Bosnia, since January. In May, the Second Congress of the United Union of Anti-Fascist Youth of Yugoslavia was held in the town, followed by training and celebrations of the Marshal”s birthday. The Congress was attended by several hundred delegates (234 girls and 582 boys), among whom were also foreigners such as a Pole. Other hideouts were in a cave near Batastasi and on the slopes of Gradina, where a barrack was built into the cave there. Of these three hideouts, Tito stayed most often in the cave in Bastasi, where other members of the Staff, the KC, and representatives of the Allied military missions stayed in addition to him. At this time, there were two radio stations, the Soviet and the Yugoslavian “Slobodna Jugoslavija” (a daily newspaper under the same name was also published). Already in April there was information about a possible Nazi attack on Drvar, and immediately the third brigade of the 6th Lika Division was sent to protect the region. In early May the Allies destroyed the landing gliders sent by the Nazis. Only the Staff Protection Battalion of 300 partisans was left in Drvar, and the rest of the brigade was seconded. As it turned out, this was a deliberate maneuver by Hitler, who anticipated the partisans” decision and decided to send a strong army to Drvar to kill Tito. Himmler was to be responsible for killing Tita. Himmler prepared the attack together with Lothar Rendulic, to whom he gave his 500th SS parachute battalion. SS troops and airborne groups were to be supported by Chetniks. A total of 40,000 German troops were to participate in the attack on Drvar. In order to find out Tito”s plans in detail, the Germans used a deserter from a partisan unit. According to the plan, after the landing, several groups were to be sent to kill or capture Tito and to obtain documents. Another group was to break up the Soviet military mission, and still others the British and American missions. Tito”s quarters were to be captured by a detachment of SS men called “Panther”. The operation began first thing in the morning on May 25, with Tito arriving in Drvar on the 24th for a birthday celebration organized by a youth organization. The surprised Yugoslavs had a small garrison of older partisans. The location of the terrain worked to the advantage of the guerrillas – several of the planes crashed on uneven ground, and some soldiers died in the crash. The guerrillas offered no resistance, instead hiding in the nearby mountains, and Tito and his associates left the cave where he lived. During this time, the Germans laboriously searched the village for partisan commanders and Allied advisors. The Germans found out in which direction the partisans retreated and set off in pursuit. The SS men were stopped by a detachment of Yugoslavian and Polish partisans led by Aleksander Ranković. To break up the partisans, the SS men kidnapped a group of girls from Drvar and placed them in front of them as human shields. The moment the Germans got close enough to the partisans, the girls fell to the ground and the partisans showered the SS men with a hail of bullets effectively breaking up the group leading the pursuit. The third brigade of the 6th Lice Division and students from the local officers” school came to Drvar”s aid. The relief was successful and the partisans managed to kill most of the SS men, the partisans retreated on Tito”s orders after the Germans directed armored units towards the town. The Battle of Drvar proved to be the only failed airborne landing for the Nazis in World War II history. The Germans suffered huge losses, with one thousand soldiers killed and two thousand wounded, while in comparison the Yugoslavs lost only two hundred partisans and wounded four hundred others. The only success of the Germans was the capture of Tito”s uniform, which was then shown at an exhibition in Vienna.
The attack on Drvar marked the beginning of the VII Anti-Partisan Offensive. The retreating Tito established contact with the Allies, allowing British planes to drop supplies to him in Kupres, while contact with the rest of the troops was lost. Persuaded by mission delegates from Britain and the USSR, Tito decided to leave the embattled region and retreat to safer ground. The Allies offered him a trip to Italy, but Broz refused to leave the country, eventually retreating through the village of Ravno, where an airfield had been set up, to the liberated island of Vis. The evacuation was carried out by a Soviet pilot, Major Alexander Shornikov. Initially, Tito and his staff traveled to Italy, then headed to Vis on a British ship. Vis became the headquarters of the Staff until the liberation of Belgrade. The Allies delivered 10 tons of gasoline, 10,000 rifles, 100 tons of ammunition, and 10 tons of medicine and bandages to the island. Broz took up residence in a cave carved into the rock, from where he issued orders to the partisans operating in the country. The U.S. left the British and Soviets free on the Yugoslav issue. As soon as the Allies occupied Rome and Normandy, the Balkan Air Force began operating over Yugoslavia (with pilots from Britain, the USA, Poland, Greece, Italy and Yugoslavia). Taking advantage of Tito”s stay on the island, Churchill was preparing a plan to bring Peter II to Yugoslavia. According to the plans, Peter II was to become the leader of the Chetniks, and Tito was to renounce communism, which would allow several thousand Serbs who did not accept communism to be drawn into the partisans. On May 24, Peter II dismissed the leader of the Chetniks.
Moderate Royal Prime Minister Subaśic met with the Communist leader on June 14. As a result of their agreement, three national ministers joined the London government, and it was also agreed that none of the ministers of this government could be former collaborators or participants in the struggle against the partisans. After the meeting, Śubśić recognized the National Liberation Movement, while Tito established official relations with the government in exile. From then on, Śubasić”s main goal became organizing food aid for the country”s population. Subaśić presented Tito with another demand, he proposed that Tito meet with Źivko Topalovic – the leader of the Central National Committee under Chetnik control, Tito refused to negotiate with the Chetniks and include them in the government. Soon, two politicians of Broza”s appointment joined the government. The talks broke off after protests by pro-monarchist Serbian politicians in London and pro-Titoist popular activists from Slovenia and Croatia. He then turned his attention to the other countries of the peninsula, and in a letter to Dmitrov criticized what he considered the passive attitude of the communists in Bulgaria and Greece. In the letter he also touched on the Macedonians not being recognized as a nation by either Greece or Bulgaria. The Marshal praised only Albania, where, in his opinion, the situation was developing favorably.
At the end of July, the U.S. and the USSR recognized the coalition communist-monarchist government of Subaśić; Britain promised to recognize the government and to hand over Yugoslavia”s ships belonging to it if the guerrillas established real cooperation with the king”s government. On 6 July Tito met with Field Marshal Wilson in Caserta, Tito asked the Field Marshal to provide him with tanks and artillery, while in Naples he met near Lake Bolzano with Harold Alexander. At his meeting with Churchill, Tito raised, among other things, the subject of granting Yugoslavia the Covenant of Slovenia and Istria; Churchill announced that this matter would be settled at a peace conference. In August, Prime Minister Śubasić arrived on Vis, he agreed to recognize the partisan authorities in the declaration of the new Royal Cabinet, and also included a call for a joint struggle against Germany under the leadership of the Marshal. Śubasić supported the expansion of Yugoslavia into the western territories.
With the liberation of the country, Subaśić proposed the formation of a new government of communists and monarchists. His idea was supported by the British foreign minister, who feared that if no agreement was reached the country was in danger of civil war. When the Marshal learned of the proposal of the government in exile, he ordered the cancellation of the Anti-Fascist National Liberation Assembly called by activists from Serbia. On September 9, Bulgaria went over to the Allied side and an uprising ensued in which the Tsarist regime there was overthrown and a government composed of Communists was formed. At the same time, the Germans evacuated from Greece – Tito gave orders to attack retreating units and prevent them from occupying Yugoslavian facilities. During the review of troops, Tito gave a speech in which he included the words: Thanks to our struggle our brothers in Istria, Slovenian Przymorze and Carinthia must and will be liberated, they will live freely in their new homeland with their compatriots. This is the desire of all of us, this is their desire. We do not want anyone else”s, but we will not give anyone else”s!”, in which he clearly demanded a revision of the borders to the detriment of Austria and Italy, words that were repeated over the next two years almost as a national slogan. This slogan was criticized only by the Macedonians, who felt underestimated – Tito did not mention in his speech the disputed Macedonia of Pirin and Aegean belonging to Greece and Bulgaria, Tito explained that in this political situation he did not want to get involved in a conflict with the southern neighbors, but would return to the problem at the appropriate time. At the same time, he condemned separatist aspirations in his own country and criticized the creation of the Telegraphic Agency of Croatia, claiming that the only official agency was the nationwide TANJUG.
Broz united nine divisions, which moved together toward the capital, Belgrade, which the Germans had turned into a fortress. On the eve of the battle, Tito canceled a meeting with the prime minister of the government-in-exile and sharply criticized Western Allied claims about his visit to the USSR. The battle for the capital began on October 14 and the Yugoslav troops were helped by the Red Army. Against Tito”s troops stood 30 thousand Nazi soldiers with 70 tanks, armored cars and as many as 400 guns. Against the Nazis stood 55,000 Yugoslavian soldiers and a Soviet mechanized corps. The Germans were helped by an army of 30 thousand soldiers. The battle for the city streets lasted six days, partisan soldiers were aided by civilians. Some of the soldiers had to withdraw from the city streets and stand up to fight with 30 thousand soldiers, who came to the aid of the city garrison. Thanks to the support of artillery and tanks the German army was smashed, and on October 20 the city was free. In the bloody battle one thousand soldiers of the USSR and three thousand soldiers of Yugoslavia died. On the other hand, as many as 25,000 Germans were killed or taken prisoner, and they lost their supplies of armored weapons and food. The combined Yugoslav-Soviet troops liberated the town of Nis, thereby blocking the retreat of Army Group E retreating from Greece to the Reich. On the 16th the Marshal signed an agreement with Fyodor Tolbukhin by which the Soviet air group “Vitruk” came under Yugoslav command.
The leader of Yugoslavia went to Belgrade on October 25 and set up the headquarters of the Supreme Staff there. On October 27, a parade of troops taking part in the liberation of the city was held at Banijca. Soon Subaśić arrived in the capital, and Tito received congratulatory letters from the Allied leaders. Jakubosic signed another agreement with the Marshal, under which Yugoslavia was guaranteed representation in the ranks of the UN created after the war. At this meeting it was agreed that the monarch would not return to Yugoslavia until the Yugoslav people had spoken out, and that until he did, the authorities would be governed by governors appointed by Tito and Subaśić. Early the following month, the Marshal created the elite Guard Brigade of the Supreme Staff and several other units responsible for the defense of embassies, KPJ institutions, and the Supreme Staff. These units survived until the end of Yugoslavia and operated under the name Titova Garda. In the middle of the month, a meeting of the Great Anti-Fascist National Assembly for the Liberation of Serbia was convened in Belgrade, personally attended by the Marshal himself. The meeting elected parliamentarians and working bodies of the group. At the meeting Tito was decorated with the Order of the National Hero. Even then, the British, hoping to save their influence on the situation in Yugoslavia, were preparing a landing on the Adriatic coast. British soldiers landed only in Dubrovnik, where they were to protect the artillery. When the Marshal learned that the British were rescuing collaborators – Ustasha and Chetniks – he decided to put the Yugoslav II Corps in charge of the city. In December, the government-in-exile and the national government agreed that elections would be held within three months, and until they were held, the Anti-Fascist Council would assume power. Fighting continued in the north of the country, particularly heavy on the Srem Front, and the Red Army was in the country, which Tito had problems with – the soldiers sometimes committed robbery attacks on civilians and raped Yugoslav women. Tito returned to this problem thirty years later when, during celebrations to mark the liberation of the capital in the presence of marshals from the USSR, he said: “I cannot forgive myself that I consented to the entry of the Red Army into our country… By the end of the year, food and livestock had been delivered to the liberated areas with the help of UNRRA, and the KPJ had consolidated its local authority.
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Yugoslavia was the only country in Europe that managed to liberate itself. At the beginning of the Cold War, Yugoslavia was part of the Eastern Bloc, but it was the only country at the time that was not dependent on the USSR. After the liberation of the country, Tito enjoyed mass popular support and was treated as the liberator of Yugoslavia. At the beginning of the year, the marshal formed three armies that contributed to the National Liberation Army. For that moment, the territories of southern Yugoslavia – Macedonia and Montenegro – were liberated. Although almost the entire country was in the hands of the Titoists, Peter II did not accept the agreement between Tito and the government in exile. Seeing the steadfastness of the king, and at the same time protests organized against him in Yugoslavia on the initiative of the KPJ (on the Marshal”s orders), the British stopped supporting him, fearing that his attitude would lead to the rupture of previous agreements. As a result, the monarch agreed to place his power in the hands of the Regency Council. The Marshal urged the government-in-exile to return to the country, thus removing the last obstacles to the formation of a joint government. In late February, Tita was visited by Harold Alexander, the Allied commander in the Mediterranean. The talks were devoted to the interaction of the Yugoslav and Western armies. On March 7, 1945, Tito proclaimed in Belgrade, the Provisional Government of the Democratic Federation of Yugoslavia (Demokratska Federativna Jugoslavija, DFY). The name of the government deliberately did not include the term republic or kingdom, as it was intended to bring together both the republican resistance movement and the royalist government-in-exile. Tito was appointed interim prime minister and Šubašić foreign minister. The government spelled out its program, which included demands for the reconstruction of the country, the conquest of Istria, Trieste, Carinthia, and the Slovenian Piedmont. The government guaranteed equal rights to all citizens of the country regardless of their origin.
He reorganized the guerrilla army into the Yugoslav People”s Army (Jugoslavenska Narodnej armija, JNA), which was then Europe”s fourth largest army. Most of the state positions were occupied by veterans of the partisans. In addition to the regular army, the UDBA and intelligence services and the Department of People”s Security were established. Among other things, the UDBA and the Department of People”s Security were responsible for finding, prosecuting, imprisoning, and liquidating Nazi collaborators and war criminals. The Yugoslav Intelligence Service arrested a large number of Nazi collaborators and, controversially, many Croatian Catholic priests in connection with the widespread collaboration of the clergy with the Ustasha regime. The leader of the Chetniks was arrested on March 13, 1946, Draža Mihailović was found guilty of collaboration, treason and war crimes, and as a result was executed in July 1946. At this time, deportations of “ethnic Germans” (Volksdeutsche (Volksdeutsche) from Yugoslavia. Many of them fought in the 7th SS Prinz Eugen Volunteer Mountain Division. In August, the Third Meeting of the Anti-Fascist National Liberation Council was held, at which Tito defined his attitude toward Poland and reaffirmed his recognition of the government there. He again demanded that the Allies recognize the revision of Yugoslavia”s borders in its favor. Three days after the meeting, the Council was transformed into the Provisional People”s Assembly, which included representatives of all legal political parties and organizations, including pre-war parliamentarians and right-wing politicians. The Provisional People”s Assembly undertook a number of reforms, including agricultural reforms and the confiscation of property belonging to collaborators. A resolution was passed to formally incorporate the disputed border areas of Austria and Italy into Yugoslavia.
The 20th Yugoslavian Army moved into a final operation against Army Group E, which controlled areas from the Drava River to Sarajevo and Dalmatia. In the battle the Germans lost 100,000 soldiers and 210,000 were taken prisoner. The Yugoslavs captured 1520 guns, 40 planes and 97 tanks, and in the operation Sarajevo was liberated. The next step was the liberation of Trieste from the Germans. The Marshal placed the troops that liberated Istria (except for Pula and Rovinj) at the disposal of the Western Allies – this was a strategic maneuver – Tito wanted Yugoslav troops to be the ones to liberate the disputed Italian-Yugoslav areas. Thanks to the Marshal”s maneuver, the Yugoslav army took control of Pula and Trieste, and the Western Allies could use the ports in those cities. When Tito announced that these areas were Yugoslavian and had been taken from her in 1918, he was criticized by the British. Marshal Alexander sent General Morgan to Yugoslavia to settle the dispute, but his mission was unsuccessful and the Yugoslav side continued to claim that the captured territories were ethnic Yugoslav lands. Civilian national liberation councils elected during the war took power in the captured area. After Morgan”s unsuccessful mission, Alexander even threatened to use the army against the Yugoslavs” self-rule, and angry British politicians compared Tito to Hitler and Mussolini.
After the war the Albanian problem arose. Although abuses against Albanians were severely punished, there were often attacks by Serbian nationalists promoting the idea of a Greater Serbia and they considered Albanians as intruders. Albanians lived in Kosovo and Metohija. The Speaker received a delegation of Albanians who assured him that it did not matter whether Albanians lived in Albania or Yugoslavia if the government provided them with equal rights. After meeting with the Albanians, the leader of the Yugoslav Communists went to the USSR, where he signed the Agreement on Friendship and Postwar Cooperation between the USSR and Yugoslavia on April 11. The Yugoslav government established diplomatic relations with the liberated countries, and on March 30 it recognized the Provisional Government of the Republic of Poland.
The war in Europe ended on May 9, but fighting continued in Yugoslavia. Broz declared May 9 a national holiday and sent telegrams of congratulations to the Allied countries. In summary, Yugoslavia suffered the third highest casualties in Europe (after Poland and the USSR) in the war, with 304,540 partisan soldiers killed. Overall, some 1.7 million Yugoslavs died, 330,000 people lost their homes, and industry, ports, and railroads fell into ruin. On May 12, the Marshal attended the congress at which the Communist Party of Serbia was established. At the congress, he outlined the tasks facing the country – rebuilding the country, strengthening brotherhood and equality for all the peoples of Yugoslavia. He also criticized the Western Allies, reminding them that neither Great Britain nor the USA had responded to Broza”s request to incorporate into Yugoslavia the part of Austria inhabited by Slovenes, and that these countries demanded that Yugoslavia leave Carinthia and denied Yugoslavia”s right to possess the area of Istria, the Slovenian Coast and Trieste. Tito opted for an alliance with the USSR. On the same day, the British ambassador again demanded that Tito withdraw his troops from Austrian Italy and retreat to the 1937 borders. On May 15, the Germans suffered the ultimate disaster, with as many as 250,000 German troops and their collaborators surrendering to the Yugoslavs in Slovenia right on the border with Austria. Yugoslavian captive Alexander Löhr, commander of the German forces in the Balkans responsible for numerous war crimes, was tried and sentenced to death by firing squad. At the time of the victory over Germany, the Yugoslavian army numbered as many as 800,000 soldiers. On June 9 the leader signed an agreement with the USA and Great Britain that divided the disputed territories into Zone A, occupied by the armies of Britain and the USA, and Zone B, belonging to Yugoslavia. This was to be a solution until an Allied peace treaty with Italy was signed. The Western Allies did not dispute the demands for the reincorporation of the areas occupied by fascist Italy into Yugoslavia, with Stalin”s efforts proving useful, sending a despatch to Alexander supporting the demands of the Yugoslav side. Yugoslav troops evacuated the disputed areas on June 16.
The former partisans gathered around the National Front and the opposition around the monarchist Democratic Party, which brought together activists from Poland and abroad. The goal of the Democratic Party was to form a coalition government with the communists and return to the pre-war system. The Democratic Party was supported by the higher church hierarchy and some farmers. The strongest party of the National Front were the communists, the party had only 12,000 members in 1941, 9,000 of whom died during the fight against the occupiers. By the time the country was liberated, the party already had 141,066 members. On June 4, 1945, he met with the president of the Yugoslav Episcopal Conference, Aloysius Stepinac. The two sides could not reach an agreement on the state of the Catholic Church. Under Stepinac”s leadership, in September 1945, the Bishops” Conference condemned the alleged war crimes of the September 1945 anti-fascist partisans. Stepinac was arrested and brought to justice on charges of supporting the forced conversion of Serbs to Catholicism and supporting the Ustasha terror. Other NDH leaders Slavko Kvaternik, General Leo Rupnik, and Bishop Rožman were also arrested. In the West, the arrests and sentences were seen as evidence of the establishment of communist terror in Yugoslavia. Stepinac”s sentence was soon commuted and he was reduced to house arrest, with the possibility of going to any archbishopric. There were armed underground groups in the country consisting of former soldiers from collaborationist units. Their numbers are estimated at about 12,000 partisans. One such group was the so-called Križari, or former Ushtashe, headed by the former war criminal Vjekoslav Luburić. Three hundred thousand people fled the country, while two hundred thousand were deprived of the right to vote because of wartime collaboration. Tens of thousands of former collaborators appeared before military tribunals, and severe sentences were often handed down against former collaborators.
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The period before the Stalin-Tito split
Marshal was faced with several major issues – rebuilding an economy destroyed by warfare and establishing cooperation with other countries. After the war, a five-year plan was implemented that included an accelerated process of industrializing the country.
The aggressive and bloody conduct of the war alienated the people of Yugoslavia from Marshal Tito; to make matters worse, communist soldiers pillaged Belgrade”s settlements and robbed the population of their possessions. Resentment against the communist regime was reinforced by a series of unjust laws; residents were harassed daily with various impediments and sanctions. For example, Tito”s government barred thousands of Serbs who had been expelled by the fascist Albanian authorities from returning to the Kosovo-Metohia district. Blagoje Nešković in 1945, at a Politburo meeting in March stated:
The Communists carried out repression on a huge scale, it affected anyone who was not enthusiastic about the introduction of Bolshevism. Brigades, divisions of the OZN and other formations were ordered to treat anyone who did not support the introduction of Stalinist communist order as “members of an anti-national band.” People were accused of behaving passively towards Tito, or having the ability to support the bands. OZN carried out purges, and liquidated such “bands”, there were mass murders. People whose only crime was to live in the area where the bandits used to operate were sent to concentration camps. The country was lawless, Tito did not enact a criminal law until 1951, which gave the repressive apparatus unlimited opportunities. In Serbia, where the property of private owners and industrialists was looted, anyone who did not support Stalinist ideology was murdered. The number of victims of these purges is unknown, but there were 20 camps and execution sites in Belgrade alone.
In late 1944 and early 1945, hundreds of intellectuals were murdered in Serbia alone because they did not declare themselves ideological supporters of Tito and Stalin. Writer Niki Bartulovic and Belgrade journalist Krsta Cicvaric were killed in the purges. The greatest terror affected Croatia, where one could be killed for no reason at all. Beatings became standard police procedure, and there was no consequence for bludgeoning someone to death. Arrests were made for absurd reasons, for example, engineer Aleksander Janković was convicted for not having stopped making soap during the Ustasha regime. The Tit terror lasted almost 4 years until 1948.
Tito sought to establish closer relations with the USSR and other Eastern Bloc countries, mainly Poland. Tito, while still chairman of the National Committee”s council of ministers, recognized the Polish Committee for National Liberation, and after the end of hostilities there were exchanges of delegations and joint trade and economic missions between Poland and Yugoslavia. Poland sent Yugoslavia a gift of one hundred wagons of coal. Broz repeatedly spoke about the rightness of Poland”s demands and the granting of its borders on the Oder and Neisse rivers (the Yugoslav leader also demanded that Poland recognize his territorial claims). In return, on September 7, 1945, the Marshal was awarded the Grunwald Cross First Class. As a result of improved relations between the countries, a large group of emigrants who had moved to Bosnia during the Austro-Hungarian period returned to Poland. The Yugoslavian press often emphasized the merits of Poles in fighting Germans in Yugoslavia – Poles formed a battalion that became a part of the 14th Brigade of Titoist partisans. On 14 March 1946, Broz visited Warsaw, and a parade was held in his honour on Plac Na Rozdrożu. In Belvedere he received the highest decoration – Order of Virtuti Militari First Class. Four days later he signed the Treaty of Friendship and Mutual Assistance between the Republic of Poland and the FLRJ. The agreement was of a defensive nature, “in case of a repetition of German aggression or on the side of a country that was an ally of the Third Reich” both countries undertook to provide mutual military assistance. During the visit, a convention on cultural cooperation was also signed and the Marshal visited Lodz and Breslau. After visiting the Polish capital, the Marshal went to the capital of Czechoslovakia. Although Tito tried to reach an agreement with the authorities there, President Edvard Beneš refused to sign the friendship and cooperation agreement, fearing that Tito would drag him into his fight for the western border. The agreement was signed on May 9 in Belgrade after the Communists consolidated their rule in Czechoslovakia.
On May 27, he visited the USSR for the second time since the end of the World War. He courted the Soviets to support his territorial demands. In addition, the situation in the Balkans and the problems of the international communist and workers” movement were discussed. Already during his visit in April of the previous year, Tito had proposed to Moscow the creation of a new coordination center of the major Communist parties (as the Communist International had once been). Tito won the approval of Stalin and Georgia Dmitrov. On June 8, the two countries signed an agreement on economic cooperation. According to Tito”s proposal, joint Soviet-Yugoslav enterprises were to help rebuild the country. The Soviets agreed to the first part of Tito”s proposal, but rejected the second because it would require them to grant Yugoslavia substantial loans. Soviet-Yugoslav talks continued as late as 1947, with the Marshal agreeing to joint oil, iron ore, and metal mining. In 1946 he signed an agreement with Albania, and in 1947 with Bulgaria and Hungary.
Initially supportive of the Marshall Plan, he resigned after persuasion from the USSR and instead accepted Soviet civilian and military advisors. At the time, he believed that the plan would have made the country dependent on capital and the U.S. government; later, he was critical of the earlier decision, considered it too hasty, and even regretted not agreeing to implement the plan in the country.
The Paris Peace Conference began inauspiciously for Yugoslavia, and its relations with the Western powers were already severely damaged. Yugoslav airspace was frequently violated by American and British aircraft, two of which crashed after Yugoslavs forced them to land. Although Tito apologized for the incident and paid compensation to the families of the pilots who died in the crash, he also claimed that the flights were intended to destabilize the country and that the pilots were supporting opposition forces. Another crisis erupted after the U.S. refused to pay the Yugoslav Federation the $47 million worth of gold deposited by the government in exile. After negotiations in which the Americans ordered the payment of debts incurred by the Yugoslavs, the U.S. agreed to pay only $1 million worth of gold. Shortly thereafter, the U.S. demanded that the United Nations force UNRRA to stop its aid to Yugoslavia; according to the Americans, the aid from UNRRA was not for civilians, but for the military. The conference began on July 29, 1946 and lasted until mid-October. The Yugoslav delegation demanded that Yugoslavia be granted Trieste and a large part of Istria; as a compromise, the Western powers agreed to create the Free Territory of Trieste. As a result, Trieste and its environs were internationalized. Yugoslavia demanded that Trieste be tied to Yugoslavia by a real union, which the West no longer wanted, and Tito and Kardelij announced that Yugoslavia would not sign the peace agreement.
In October another conference began, this time in New York between the ministers of the four Allied powers. The conference ended in the first half of December. Before it began, Broz met with Palmiro Togliatti, the leader of the Italian Communists. Togliatti arrived in Belgrade, where he discussed the issue of the interstate crisis with the Marshal. This was so important that the Italian Communists still had their ministers in the government. The Marshal proposed to the Communist leader that in exchange for Trieste, Italy should grant the area of Gorizia to Yugoslavia. Tito”s proposal attracted the interest of the Italian Foreign Minister, Pietro Nenni although he stressed that the deal with Yugoslavia should have a UN guarantee. Since Broz preferred that the Trieste area be at the disposal of the Italians rather than the Western powers, he agreed to make certain concessions to Italy, agreeing among other things to release Italian prisoners of war. Yugoslav diplomatic chief Stanoje Simić and his Italian counterpart attended the conference in New York. At Tito”s behest, Simić softened his harsh stance on the Trieste issue while continuing to demand that the disputed territories be incorporated into Yugoslavia. As a result, in exchange for the creation of the Free Territory of Trieste, Yugoslavia received part of the Julian Lands but without the town of Gorizia. A peace treaty between Yugoslavia and Italy was signed on 10 February 1947 in France. Yugoslavia”s representative stressed that his country was not giving up its ethnically native lands.
The founding congress of the Kominform, the Information Office of the Communist and Workers” Parties, was held in the late summer and fall of 1947. The initiator of the organization was Tito, who proposed it in the spring of 1945 during his visit to the Soviet Union. The organization was created on the initiative of nine workers” parties. The Communist Party of Yugoslavia was represented by Kardelj and Đilas. During the meeting there was a substantive dispute between the different factions, one of the leaders of the Polish communists pushing for a Polish road to socialism, Wladyslaw Gomulka was critical of the idea of establishing the Kominform, in his opinion the establishment of the organization was a return to the methods used by the Comintern and could worsen relations with Western countries. Gomulka criticized the attacks of the KPJ and the Bulgarian Communist Party on the Italian and French parties. Other parties were also coolly disposed to Tito”s proposal. Only the delegations of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia and the Communist Party of Yugoslavia gave their unequivocal approval to the idea of establishing the Cominform. After a discussion, it was decided that Belgrade, the capital of Yugoslavia, would become the seat of the Cominform.
Even during the World War, the Yugoslavian party influenced the other communist parties on the continent. When the war ended, the CCP supported the expansion of the revolution to all of Europe, which Stalin rejected for fear of confrontation with the west.
The Yugoslavs devised a military plan called “Maximum”; it involved striking Italy and Greece militarily and fomenting revolution there in the event that Yugoslavia was attacked by either of these countries or the United States. These plans worried Stalin and were feasible insofar as there was a workers” uprising in the industrial north of the country in July 1948 after the failed assassination of Italian Communist Party leader Palmiro Togliatti. Tito openly supported the republican side in the Greek civil war (although Albania and Bulgaria also helped the republicans), while Stalin, after talks with Winston Churchill, agreed that Greece was of no interest to the USSR and would fall into the British sphere of influence. In addition, there were armed incidents on the border with Greece. Civil unrest also erupted in neighboring Turkey, which caused concern that the peninsula would again become a hotbed of new conflict. The atmosphere was heated by the interference of the USA in the internal affairs of the chaotic countries.
Stalin regarded the Yugoslavs” actions as provocations, and believed that Tito”s policy could lead to an open war for which the USSR was not prepared after the losses of the world war. Yugoslavia did not agree to the creation of mixed enterprises proposed by the USSR, which could result in the USSR controlling certain branches of the Yugoslavian economy. The Yugoslav communists rejected a plan under which the Yugoslavs would abandon industrialization. Unlike other communist leaders, Tito did not agree on foreign policy with the Soviet foreign minister, and Soviet military and civilian advisors were dismissed when they criticized the path of development chosen by the Titoists. Tito expressed the view, “We need Soviet experts, instructors, and specialists, but we do not need commanders, because we have learned to command and can do it ourselves.” General Koča Popović, in his role as Chief of the General Staff, posed considerable problems for the Soviets. Popović criticized Soviet military advisors, accused them of interfering in Yugoslavia”s internal affairs, and accused them of trying to limit the country”s military potential in line with the Soviet strategy of “the Soviet army will defend the entire camp. At Tito”s initiative, Soviet General Nikolai Dronov, who had criticized General Popović, left Yugoslavia. The USSR government was afraid that Yugoslavia would become a second, competitive center of the Eastern Bloc that would attract other socialist countries.
Stalin accused the KP Yugoslavia of mistreating Soviet advisors, giving leading positions in the government to agents of the West, and adopting Trotskyist doctrine. In an effort to secure the party”s support in the struggle against Stalin, the Marshal called a plenary meeting of the KPJ Central Committee. Held on the night of April 12-13, the plenum prepared answers to the charges brought by Stalin. It asked the Soviet side to send a team to Yugoslavia that could help resolve all disputes and protested against violations of Yugoslavia”s sovereignty and independence. They refused to participate in ideological discussions and responded with personal accusations. Before the Central Committee received a reply from the USSR, the Central Committees of the Hungarian, Romanian, Bulgarian and Czechoslovak parties sent their letters, in which they criticized Tito”s policy and expressed solidarity with the Soviet Union; Tito was not criticized except by the Polish Workers” Party, which was then headed by Władysław Gomułka. In mid-April, Tito sent a letter to Stalin demanding that he correct the errors of the Soviet version of the socialist system. The Soviet reply arrived on May 4, with Soviet representatives admonishing Tito and the Communist Party of Yugoslavia and announcing that they had no intention of correcting what Tito called systemic errors. The Soviet side noted that the pride of the Yugoslav government derived from its successes against Germany, hence the letter maintained that it was the Red Army that saved the Partisans from destruction.
Tito”s reply came on May 17, in which the Yugoslav leader announced that the issue would be resolved at the June meeting of the Cominform. Tito, however, fearing a frontal attack on the Yugoslav Communists, did not appear at the congress. Joseph Stalin sent further letters on 19 and 22 May, again attacking the KP of Yugoslavia and announcing that the Yugoslav problem would be discussed at the Kominform congress regardless of whether the Yugoslavs appeared at it. The dictator was critical of the USSR”s equating of the Yugoslavs with the imperialist countries and stated that the merits of the KPJ were the same as those of the other Eastern Bloc parties and were even less than those of the Communist parties in Italy and France.Knowing that the Cominform had a very large following among the KPJ members, he still tried to come to an agreement with Stalin; moreover, parting with the Eastern Bloc too early was not beneficial to Yugoslavia because of its conflict with the Western powers. In addition, the pro-Russian option was popular among the Montenegrins and Serbs, historically linked to the period of fighting with the Turks. At another of the Central Committee meetings, it was agreed that the Fifth Party Congress would be launched in July, at which Tito would appeal to the entire party, and the party would not attend the Bucharest Bureau meeting. Faced with the crisis, Tito considered resigning, but was dissuaded from the idea by his closest circle. On June 8, the KPJ received a letter from the PPR Central Committee in which the party leader, Gomulka, convinced the Yugoslavs to attend the Cominform meeting and reported his and Jakub Berman”s mediation. Tito suggested that the PPR send a representative to Yugoslavia, but stressed that the decision not to attend the congress was final.
During this time, armed incidents occurred on Yugoslavia”s border with other people”s democracies, and there were assassinations or acts of sabotage in the country. The Yugoslavs were also expecting an invasion by the armies of the other People”s Democracies, so Tito decided to move factories from areas at risk of attack. Civilians were prepared to wage guerrilla warfare in the event that Yugoslavia was occupied by interventionist forces, and because of its limited military resources, NATO was asked to supply weapons. To increase support, the government, under the slogan “factories to workers,” created workers” councils. The Titoists began to find in the writings of the Marxist classics an alternative to Stalin”s version of communism. They proclaimed that during the period of building socialism, the state must not perform the function of a moloch, but must gradually die down, this model was called “self-governing socialism”.
In 1951 all his books were withdrawn from Polish libraries and censored.
In 1952, at the Sixth Party Congress, Broz reported that the economic blockade organized by the Eastern bloc had caused losses of 429 million U.S. dollars, and the cost of protecting the country from possible aggression was 1407 million. He then criticized the policies of both the West and the East.
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Tito as president
On June 26, 1950, the National Assembly supported an important law authored by Milovan Đilas and Tita on “self-management” (samoupravljanie: a type of independent socialism that experiments with profit sharing from state-managed enterprises). On January 13, 1953, the law on self-management was recognized as the basis of the entire social and economic order in Yugoslavia. On January 14, 1953, Tito replaced Ivan Ribar as President of Yugoslavia. After Stalin”s death in 1953, Tito declined the USSR”s invitation for talks to discuss the possible normalization of Soviet-Yugoslav relations. Instead, Nikita Khrushchev and Nikolai Bulganin came to talks with Tito in Belgrade in 1955, and in their meeting with Tito they apologized for the transgressions of Stalin”s administration. Tito visited the Soviet Union in 1956, thereby signaling to the world that hostilities between Yugoslavia and the USSR had eased. After a brief period of developing mutual relations, a renewed cooling of relations between the countries occurred in the 1960s.
Prior to the self-governing style reforms, Broz carried out collectivization of the countryside last January which was met with protests by some peasants that turned into demonstrations against the party”s rule. Protests in some parts of Vojvodina and Bosnia escalated into clashes between peasants armed with postwar weapons and the police. At the plenum of the upcoming Central Committee, there was a quarrel between Aleksandar Rankovic, who oversees the security service, and Boris Kidrić. Kidrić criticized the arbitrariness of the service while Ranković claimed that the service”s methods were necessary to protect Yugoslavia from its enemies. Na Broz admitted his mistake and took the blame for the situation on himself. In 1952, the KPJ changed its name to the Union of Communists of Yugoslavia to conform to the recommendations of Karl Marx. In the 1950s self-government extended to ever wider areas of life. The program was to become the foundation for the construction of socialism and the only project in the world for a truly socialist democracy. The concept developed by Tita and Kardelj assumed that self-government would improve all the time; it was to be a historic, qualitative systemic change from which, according to its theoreticians, there was no turning back. At the same time, the government stopped the implementation of other experiments and reforms, some of which brought more losses than benefits. In 1961, the National Assembly passed a law that set forth the principles for distributing corporate income. Commissions were set up to prevent arbitrariness in determining salaries. In the market changes, some party activists saw a threat to the country”s economy, believing that the changes would lead to disloyal competition and speculation. Critics of the system believed that crews of workers would rob income. The supporters of self-government, on the other hand, believed that the economy was still dominated by statist phenomena, which should be curbed and self-government organizations should be made independent. The supporters of self-government even proposed liquidation of parties. Another argument of critics was the nationality structure of the country; critics believed that self-government would lead to an excessive increase in the influence of representatives of national minorities. Upon hearing that representatives of national minorities were being expelled from party offices and functions, Tito sent a letter to the party in which he emphasized the equality of all nations.
In March 1962, at Tito”s request, the ZKJ Central Committee held a meeting on the economy and the situation in the country. Tito refrained from further radical reforms in order to prevent a split in the party, and criticized the activities of the security service – as a result of this criticism, the head of the service, Ranković, was dismissed from the ZKJ and state functions, and retired. Other persons guilty of abuses were also removed from the service. In the conflict between dogmatists and liberals, he took a neutral stance and stated that liberalism in the party was as dangerous as dogmatism. He criticized the proposals to transform the ZKJ into a social democratic party without party discipline, and on the other hand criticized the role of the party as a “supervisor”. Towards the end of 1966, the composition of the ZKJK Committee was changed, with new activists joining and many of the old ones leaving. As a result of changes in the party, the role of the Union Executive Council, i.e. the federal government, and the Union Assembly, i.e. the parliament, was increased. In 1967-1968 further amendments were made to the constitution. At the same time, the structure of ZKJ was changed and federalized. So far, the directions of activity were determined by the national congress of ZKJ, after the new changes the directions were determined by the local organizations.
After the death of the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in 1953, the USSR began the process of de-Stalinization and abandoning the totalitarian model of government. In 1955, Yugoslavia was visited by Soviet delegates led by the future CPSU First Secretary, Nikita Khrushchev. Both sides signed the Belgrade Declaration, in which they guaranteed each other to solve their disputes by peaceful means. A year later, both sides signed the Moscow Declaration, which led to the normalization of relations between Yugoslavia and the Eastern Bloc. The first scuffles after de-Stalinization occurred after the events of Poznan in June 1956 and the events in Hungary. Broz condemned Stalin”s methods of exercising power and supported the national communists (in Poland it was Władysław Gomułka) in the fights between factions. He condemned the Soviet intervention in Hungary, which he called “a great mistake.” His attitude to the events in Hungary changed when anti-communist sentiment strengthened in Yugoslavia itself, at which time Tito condemned the entry of Hungarian communists into an alliance with “reactionary forces”, and stated that “The justified protest and uprising against one clique turned into an uprising against socialism and the Soviet Union”.
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Under Tito”s leadership, Yugoslavia became a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement. In 1961, Tito, along with Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Sukarno of Indonesia, and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana (the Initiative of Five), established the movement. This activity, also known as the Initiative of Five improved the Yugoslav political position in the world and contributed to rapprochement between third world countries. The movement improved Yugoslavia”s diplomatic position. On September 1, 1961, Josip Broz Tito became the first General Secretary of the Non-Aligned Movement.
Tito”s foreign policy led him to build good relations with various governments. In 1953 he visited Britain where he met with Winston Churchill, and he also visited Cambridge and the University Library. In 1954 and 1956 there were exchange visits with Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, where even one of the streets was named after Tito. In 1955 he traveled to Burma, where he met with that country”s leader, U Nu, Yugoslavia established friendly relations with Burma, but these were cooled after 1959 when Ne Win came to power. Tito was known for pursuing a neutral foreign policy and building good relations with developing countries. In his speeches, Tito often said that a policy of neutrality and cooperation with all countries was natural as long as those countries did not use their influence to pressure Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia”s relations with the United States and Western European countries generally remained cordial. In the fall of 1960, Tito, during a meeting of the UN General Assembly, met with U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower. Tito and Eisehnower discussed a range of issues from arms control to economic development.
In July 1956, he co-organized a meeting on Vang Island in the Brioni archipelago. He met with Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Naser. The meeting discussed the principles of cooperation between countries not belonging to military and political blocs. Over the next two years, the cooperation of the “Independent Three” was established. In 1958, he visited eight countries in Africa and Asia, where he talked about unification, defense against the superpowers and common struggle for interests. The initiators of the project were Tito, Nkrumah, Naser and Sukarno.
The First Conference of Heads of Government of Non-Aligned States took place in Yugoslavia in September 1961. The conference was attended by 25 countries and 3 as observers. In the following years, more countries and national liberation groups joined the group. According to its opponents, the Non-Aligned Movement was the third bloc of the Cold War, which, however, was not true, as the organization had no military character. Marshal in the following years often took up the problems of third world countries. He offered mediation in the war between Iran and Iraq, among others. He also developed new principles of information order – he promoted the reduction of foreign television, radio stations and newspapers, and the creation of their own, national media. In Yugoslavia, the “Jugoslavija” radio station established in Belgrade and dedicated to the exclusion of the non-alignment movement was to serve this purpose.
Yugoslavia instituted liberal policies allowing foreigners to travel freely within the country and allowing Yugoslav citizens to travel throughout the world, whereas these rights were restricted in most other socialist countries. Large numbers of Yugoslav citizens worked throughout Western Europe. During his reign, Tito met with many world leaders, including the leaders of the USSR-Joseph Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev, and Leonid Brezhnev; Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser; India”s Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi; Britain”s Winston Churchill, James Callaghan, and Margaret Thatcher; the United States” Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter; in addition, at least once in his life Tito met with the likes of Ernesto Guevara, Fidel Castro, Yasser Arafat, Willy Brandt, Helmut Schmidt, Georges Pompidou, Elizabeth II, Hua Guofeng, Kim Ir Sen, Sukarno, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Suharto, Idi Amin, Haile Selassie Kenneth Kaunda, Mu”ammar al-Qaddafi, Erich Honecker, Nicolae Ceauşescu, and János Kádár. He also met many stars of the entertainment world. Because of its neutrality, Yugoslavia, which was rare among people”s democracies, established diplomatic relations with right-wing anti-communist governments. Yugoslavia was the only socialist country to have an embassy in Paraguay, ruled by dictator Alfredo Stroessner. The only exception to the non-ideological attitude toward these regimes was Chile ruled by Augusto Pinochet, Yugoslavia was one of the countries that severed diplomatic relations with Chile after President Salvador Allende was overthrown there in a 1973 coup.
Marshal actively supported anti-colonial and national liberation movements in Third World countries. Among other things, Marshal sent support to Angolan guerrillas waging a war of independence. In the same period he also supported FRELIMO armed fighting for the liberation of Mozambique.
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On April 7, 1964, the country officially changed its name to the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY). The reforms undertaken facilitated private enterprise and lifted many restrictions on freedom of speech and religion. In 1964, after the Eighth Congress of the ZKJ, the leadership of the party and government in Croatia intensified the policy of changing the distribution of national income in favor of workplaces. From 1970, the Croats demanded that the centralization of national capital (except for the assistance fund for the poorer republics and autonomous districts) be abolished. After the Croats made their demands public, the first signs of discontent in years appeared in the country. Students were the first to protest against the proposed changes; demonstrations began in the spring of 1968 in Ljubljana, Zagreb and Belgrade. Student protesters demanded the elimination of social inequality, unemployment, greater democratization, improved material conditions for young people, and greater student participation in society. Students occupied the University of Belgrade, which they proclaimed the “Red University of Karl Marx,” and the University of Zagreb, which they renamed the “Socialist University of the Seven Secretaries of the SKOJ.” Slogans appeared, i.e. “Down with the red bourgeoisie, we don”t want the restoration of capitalism”. Soon the lecturers joined the protests, while the workers refused to participate in the demonstrations. As a result of the protests, Tito agreed to introduce passports, increasing opportunities to travel to Western Europe. Foreign periodicals, publications and books appeared in the country, and thanks to the opening of the borders one million of the country”s citizens found work abroad. These changes were implemented at the same time as an economic boom, which manifested itself through, among other things, an increased number of cars purchased by private individuals. On January 1, 1967, Yugoslavia became the first people”s democracy country to open its borders wide to foreigners and to abolish visas.
In 1966 an agreement was made with the Holy See. The establishment of cooperation with the Catholic Church hierarchy was made possible by the death of the Archbishop of Zagreb, Aloysius Stepinac, who had been in conflict with Tito in the past. Thanks to it, the situation of the Catholic Church in Yugoslavia improved and partial freedom of catechization and opening of seminaries was guaranteed. Tito”s new socialism presupposed that communists must rule Yugoslavia in the future through the power of argument, not dictatorship. Words were also followed by deeds and the staffing of the state security agency (UDBA) was reduced to 5000 employees. The new socialism was met with criticism from a faction of conservative communists led by Aleksandar Rankovic.
In 1967, the Yugoslav leader began to actively promote a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict. His plan was to get the Arabs to recognize the state of Israel in exchange for the return of its territorial gains.
In 1968, Tito offered Czechoslovak leader Alexander Dubček to fly to Prague if Dubček needed help fighting the USSR. The same year he condemned the Warsaw Pact intervention in Czechoslovakia he gave his support to the Czechoslovak government. He also rejected the Brezhnev doctrine justifying Warsaw Pact interventions in socialist countries. In April 1969, Tito demoted Generals Ivan Gošnjak and Rade Hamović for failing to prepare the Yugoslav army for the USSR”s analogous invasion of Yugoslavia.
In the 1960s, under the influence of the press or statements by politicians, more and more of the country”s citizens declared themselves to be Yugoslavs in personal surveys. The Marshal himself did not support this phenomenon, and in an interview with a British journalist he condemned “Yugoslavism in the unitarian sense, which negates nationalities or attempts to diminish their role”; according to the Marshal, the citizens of the country were Yugoslavs through their nationality. He also sharply criticized nationalism and chauvinism. The end of the decade of the 1960s saw a phenomenon of the opposite nature – the rise of Greater Serbian and Greater Croatian sentiment and the revival of nationalism among Slovenes, Albanians, Montenegrins, or Macedonians. As early as 1969, the Union of Slovenian Communists promoted the idea of an “independent Slovenia, linked to central Europe,” and Kosovo became the next flashpoint. Faced with the rise of nationalism, the Speaker once again (for the third time in his career) considered resigning from office and retiring from politics.
Faced with the rise of nationalism, the Speaker condemned the phenomenon of mutual criticism of the Federation and reformed the ZKJ Central Committee. On July 4, he met with the leadership of the ZKCh, and on July 12-13, the Fourth Conference of the Croatian Party was held, at which the topic of criticism of the party by the leader of the state was omitted; nevertheless, the party decided to expel several politicians from its ranks. The nationalist campaign in Croatia stalled until the fall when it gained renewed momentum. The nationalists took advantage of the fact that Tito was on tour in October and November in Iran (to celebrate 2,500 years of the Persian empire), India and the United Arab Republic, the United States, Canada, and Great Britain. The nationalist movement was led by communists Mika Tripalo, Pero Pirker, and Savka Dabćević-Kućar who controlled, among others, Croatian radio and press. The nationalist faction was supported by a large number of veterans of the struggle against the Germans, including many retired generals.
The second axis of nationalism was Serbia, where, admittedly, the nationalist movement was not as fierce as in Croatia, and the actions of nationalists there were not anti-federalist in nature. The ZK of Serbia demanded the federalization of the party and the reform of the state – part of the nationalist intelligentsia believed that the changes so far were anti-Serbian and had been imposed on the Serbs by Croats and Slovenes. Even the party”s chairman, Marko Nikezić, and its Central Committee secretary, Latinka Perović, sided with the anti-Titoists. The nationalists accused the KPJ leadership of autocratic management of the individual republics. The KPJ sided with the majority of the Serbian parliament, which criticized the type of discussion conducted by the nationalists as harmful. To calm the conflicting mood within the party itself, on September 29, 1972, the Speaker sent a letter, “To All Communists of Yugoslavia,” in which he called for a common struggle for the development of the country.
Although he promoted the decentralization of the state, he strongly opposed the decentralization of the party itself advocated by the Serbs; on the contrary, he favored greater centralization. As Tito himself believed because of this view, he was portrayed at home and abroad as a conservative, almost a Stalinist while his party rival, the nationalist Nikezić, was portrayed as the leader of a progressive line.
In October a discussion took place between Tito and the Serbian party leaders. The Serbs accused Tito of being a dictator despite the sharp discussion. The official communiqué stated only that all mistakes and ideological excesses had been clarified at the meeting, and the Marshal himself admitted that relations between the Presidium and the KPS leadership were not developing well. After the discussion, Tito threatened the Presidium with interference in KPS affairs, after which the nationalists Perović and Nikezić resigned, along with many other supporters of this faction. With the resignation, the political crisis in Serbia ended, and at the same time the rise of regional nationalism was halted for the next 20 years. In addition to Serbia and Croatia, the purges also affected Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The one country that did not experience nationalist protests was Montenegro. The personnel reforms lasted until mid-1973.
In 1976, the so-called New Constitution, or “Law on Organized Labor,” drafted by Tita and Kardelij and regulating the principles of self-government, was issued. In June he took part in the conference of the Communist and Workers” Parties of Europe in Berlin. At the end of the year he earned a doctorate in military science. He also went to a conference of non-aligned countries in Colombo, Sri Lanka. In 1977, he was awarded the Order of National Hero and the Order of the October Revolution for the third time, which Tito received during a summer visit to the USSR. He also paid a visit to West Germany that year.
The death of Josip Broz Tito was the beginning of the end for the SFRY. The 1980s saw the rise of nationalism which led to the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.
There is a peak in North Macedonia named after Titov Wrw. Sites named after Tito also exist outside of the former Yugoslavia; a square named after him exists in Moscow, among other places.