Josip Broz (Tito) (7 May 1892 4 May 1980) was born in Croatia in 1892. He was born to the relatively poor family of a Croatian peasant and his Slovenian wife. He worked as a mechanic before being conscripted into the Austro-Hungarian Army in 1914, and proved to be a very capable soldier, rising to the rank of Staff Sergeant and also earning a silver medal for valor. While fighting In the World War I, he was captured by the Russian Army. Broz converted to Communism and took part in the Russian Revolution in 1917. He spent most of the Russian Civil War in hiding in Siberia, where he worked as a mechanic at a Kirghiz mill and occasionally acted as a spy for the local Bolsheviks. After the Red Army drove out the local White Army forces, Tito joined the communist party and married a local girl, Pelagia Belousova, whose family were committed Bolsheviks.
Broz returned to the new Yugoslavia and became active in politics. The royalist government outlawed the Communists and in 1928, Broz was arrested and given a five-year prison sentence. On his release, he went to live in the Soviet Union and in 1934 began working for the Comintern. Soon afterward, he obtained the nickname Tito. He also had a falling out with his wife (allegedly he was disappointed by how she treated their son), and divorced her. In 1937, he met Herta Haas, an experienced revolutionary, whom he married in 1940.
On the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, the Comintern established the Dimitrov Battalion. Named after Georgi Dimitrov, the battalion comprised Greeks and people from the Balkans. Tito's involvement with this battalion, and the Spanish Civil War in general, is rather unclear. He was responsible for recruiting and organizing volunteers, but he did this in Yugoslavia and France, and later claimed that he never set foot in Spain during the entire war. While there are numerous rumors he was in fact present in Spain, nobody has produced any convincing evidence of this (an often-circulated photo claiming to be of him taking a shower was actually taken in Marseilles, and isn't clear enough to prove it is indeed Tito anyway).
The Yugoslavian government headed by Prince-Regent Paul allied itself with the fascist dictatorships of Germany and Italy. However, on March 27, 1941, the Serbian people rebelled (led by some military generals, the British-backed Agrarian Party, but also supported by the Moscow-backed Serbian Communists) against the established CvetkovićMaček Agreement. The government was ousted, underage Prince Peter II was declared King, but ironically, the new government proclaimed it still wishes good relations with Germany. Unfortunately it had no effect, as Hitler was not amused at all. Ten days later, as a response, the Luftwaffe bombed Yugoslavia and virtually destroyed its capital, Belgrade. The German Army invaded and the government was forced into exile. Large parts of the country/ies were annexed by Germany, Italy, Bulgaria and Hungary, and several puppet regimes were installed - the largest being the Croatian Ustae regime of Ante Pavelić which held rule of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Tito returned to Yugoslavia and helped establish the partisan resistance fighters. Initially, the Partisans took heavy casualties, while the Allies provided military aid to the Chetniks led by Draa Mihailović in fighting against Axis forces. Information reached Sir Winston Churchill that the Četniks had been collaborating with the Germans and Italians against communist partisans. At Teheran, the decision was taken in mid-1943 to switch this aid to Tito and the partisans.
1943 was a turning point for Tito's forces. The Germans launched several offensives to try and destroy the Partisan movement or at least eliminate its leadership but, while the partisans took heavy casualties, they were always able to regroup and strike again. Italy surrendered in September, while the Četniks' power was broken in the Battle of Neretva river (there's a famous movie about this - it even got close to achieving an Academy Award) when the Allies finally turned their backs on them, and the partisans inflicted such heavy casualties on them that they never recovered. By the end of November the same year, Tito was able to establish a government in Bosnia.
In 1944 the fortunes of war continued to favor the partisans. Adolf Hitler sent elite German paratroopers to kill Tito in his hideout Drvar, but Tito managed to escape. From that moment on, the Germans were no longer able to launch major anti-partisan operations. In May 1944, a new government of Yugoslavia was established under Ivan ubaić. Tito was made War Minister in the new government. He and his partisans continued their fight against the German Army and in October 1944, they liberated Belgrade (with some Soviet assistance), thus ending the Serb puppet regime of Milan Nedić. By now, the Partisans had began reforming into a regular army.
In March 1945, Tito became premier of Yugoslavia. By now the remaining Axis forces were in full retreat. Facists holding the rules over the puppet government in Zagreb, the capital of the Independent State of Croatia lost and either fled or were captured (and usually killed after a show trial). Some Axis forces continued to resist for a week even after Germany surrendered, but they were quickly overcome. Over the next few years Tito created a federation of socialist republics (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia).
Tito had several disagreements with Josef Stalin and in 1948, Tito took Yugoslavia out of the Comintern and pursued a policy of "positive neutralism". Influenced by the ideas of his vice president, Milovan Đilas, Tito broke with the Stalinist model of government and attempted to create a unique form of socialism that included profit-sharing workers' councils that managed industrial enterprises. Yugoslavia remained neutral throughout the Cold War, refusing to join either NATO or the Warsaw Pact.
Although he becamed president-for-life in 1974, Tito established a unique system of collective, rotating leadership within the country. Tito died on May 4, 1980, and the system did not last long. Lacking a strong leader, the Belgrade leadership pushed for a highly centralized state, but was resisted by the ruling parties of each republic. The economic situation of Yugoslavia also deteriorated after Tito's death and, with the collapse of the East Bloc, the communist parties lost their monopoly on power and lost the elections to the nationalists. In June 1991, Slovenia and Croatia declared independence, which led to the The Yugoslav Wars.
Tropes as portrayed in fiction:
- The Casanova: Despite his reputation as one, this is generally averted in media that was made during his life.
- David vs. Goliath: Portrayed this way in Yugoslav media to highlight his heroic nature as leader of resistance against the might of the Axis Powers and later Stalin. Also received this treatment in the West during WW2, in order to inspire others to resist the Axis, and during the Tito-Stalin split, in order to try and lessen Soviet influence in other Eastern Bloc countries.
- Guile Hero: Often presented as winning through cunning and diplomacy as well as military actions.
- Iconic Outfit: His white admiral's uniform. In ex-Yugoslav countries, expect anyone who puts on such a uniform to be accused of trying to impersonate Tito.
- No One Gets Left Behind: Yugoslav movies emphasized that Tito was big on this. note
- Rebel Leader: Probably the best-known WW2 Resistance leader besides Charles De Gaulle. Not always shown in a positive light, though.
- Strongly Worded Letter: He sent one to Stalin telling him to stop trying to assassinate him, or he'll send him one of his own killers. "And I won't have to send a second". It worked.
Appears in the following works:
Anime and Manga
- Included in the manga Ishi No Hana by Sakaguchi Hisashi, as a secondary character.
- Tito appears in The Battle of Sutjeska where he is played by Richard Burton.
- The Serbian film Tito i ja (Tito and me) is a heartwarming Coming of Age comedy about a young kid who is fascinated by Tito, largely due to the cult of personality in 1950s Yugoslavia. Tito himself makes an appearance as a secondary character, played by Serbian actor Voja Brajovic. Eventually the kid loses interest in Tito and focuses on loving his family.
- The Serbian film Underground mentions him a number of times, and one of the two main characters is a disciple of his. Archive footage of Tito's funeral is used in the film, focusing on the many foreign dignitaries in attendance. The film was criticized in some circles for lionizing Tito and presenting a rose-colored view of Communist Yugoslavia.
- Mentioned in The Man with the Iron Heart by Harry Turtledove. Heydrich used Tito's tactics as an inspiration for the German Freedom Front.
- There was a board game released in the early eighties called Tito and his Partisan Army. It had a very innovative ending, but the abstract gameboard and lack of hexes (which were very popular back then) meant its sales were poor.
- Dolgare from Tactics Ogre is based on him.
- Appears in the Hearts of Iron series as both a military and a political leader.
- His partisans, and later the Yugoslav People's Army feature in the Steel Panthers series. He even personally appears in one mission (a downscaled version of the raid on Drvar mentioned in the main article), represented by a HQ unit.