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TITO AND YUGOSLAVIA
Autor: Ammar Krcic
Objavljeno: 03. Jan 2019. 21:01:47


“Stop sending assassins to murder me…if this doesn’t stop I will send a man to Moscow and there’ll be no need to send any more.” This is a letter Josip Broz Tito[1] sent to Josef Stalin[2] after Stalin attempted many failed assassinations on Tito. This letter to Stalin (after 1948) is what defined Tito for who he was in Yugoslavia and changed the relationship between Yugoslavia and Russia. He was a man that opposed Stalin and his attempt to unify the Slavic nations and because of that, Tito was favored by many people and many nations across the world for defying Stalin’s imposing power. Although the topic about Tito and Stalin are very intriguing to jump into, the main focus of this topic is Tito and his regime in Yugoslavia. Josip Broz Tito’s regime worked for the most part because of the power he held on the people to not separate and fight one another inside Yugoslavia (over nationalistic/religious views[3] ). He did this by using governmental force, propaganda, and different kinds of work to improve the standards of living. To understand how Tito came to power in Yugoslavia, we must understand the history behind it.

After the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918, at the end of the first World War[4] , states that belonged to the empire quickly tried to form countries or empires of their own while they still had the chance to do so. In the Balkan region, the Kingdom of Serbia led by Petar Karađorđević I came with an idea to the people and nations in that region to be under one kingdom, united. Those who agreed with Petar I, Croatia and Slovenia, formed the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes to fend off foreigners from gaining their lands after the war; this also involved Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, and Montenegro but they weren’t included in the title. After Petar I death in 1921, his son, Aleksandar Karađorđević I took his father’s spot as king of the land. Aleksandar I at the time was known as the “Unifier” of the kingdom as he held the countries together under one goal and that was to keep the lands in the kingdom unified. In 1929, Aleksandar I renamed the empire as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia meaning the Kingdom of Southern Slavs so as to not limit which countries are mentioned but to hold all countries as one entity. While this might have sounded like a great idea to those who were in power, he was eventually confronted by a Macedonian revolutionary, Vlado Chernozemski during his visit in France in 1934 and assassinated. Although there were different kinds of uprisings in that time due to a number of people who believed that they shouldn’t be under one ruler/kingdom; especially considering that they had recently broke off from one and if that ruler had mixed emotions and relations with the surrounding nations.

While these uprisings were happening, it wasn’t long until Hitler’s Nazi’s (Germany) and Mussolini's fascists (Italy) invaded the Kingdom on April 6, 1941, and held territory there until the end of the second World War[5] . The Kingdom of Yugoslavia was in turmoil and the people there were suffering from the Nazi and fascist occupation. As a result, a man who watched and participated in historical situations rose to the occasion to bring the people together and fend off the Axis powers while they were weakening. Josip Broz Tito was the man who sought Yugoslavia’s freedom through his citizens army called the “Partisan’s” (Partizani). As mentioned before, the people in Yugoslavia were broken down, but Tito managed to gather a number of Bosnian people to help him under his cause to free the Yugoslavian people since the Serbian Chetnik’s (Četnik) [6] and Croatian Ustasha’s (Ustaša) [7] cooperated with Nazi Germany and the Axis powers. In return, he promised that the Bosnian people would have their country name proclaimed as one of the republics in Yugoslavia and that they would have as many rights as the leading republic’s did. This was agreed upon under the Anti-Fascist Council of National Liberation of Yugoslavia (AVNOJ) [8] ; first meeting being held in Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on November 26-27, 1942, and the second meeting in Jajce, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on November 29, 1943. As of this result, the Bosnian people fought under Tito and his Partisan army to reclaim the lands that were taken and in 1946, Josip Broz Tito came to power in Yugoslavia after the war and renamed the Kingdom as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Along with this new republic, a new government was formed similar to the one in the Soviet Union; Communism.

In the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito’s goal, compared to the previous leaders of the old Yugoslav kingdoms, was to keep and align all republics situated in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia no matter the differences and history one had with one another. Broz Tito wanted these republics to freshen up and think of a future for the people of Yugoslavia. Not many people agreed with him in forgetting the differences and history the republics had with one another and because of this he would use at necessary moments governmental force to keep the people at peace with one another and know that there is something bigger than their feud; Yugoslavia. Serbs and Croats at the time had the most feud with one another, considering they were fighting each other while fighting Tito’s Partisan army during World War II. Due to this ongoing problem between the Serbs and Croats, the very existence of the Yugoslavian state was at risk but the government was able to control this matter by using governmental force and bringing back terrible memories of the war and the onslaught between the two parties. [9] Tito, along with his many methods of managing the people used government force as a tactic to control the protest, attacks, and feuds between the republics in Yugoslavia. In that time, people in Yugoslavia were afraid to defy Tito and his regime due to the fact that they would be blacklisted and sent to a prison off the coast of Croatia called Goli Otok[10] . My father once told me that if someone were to criticize Tito or his regime or even rip a picture with Tito on it and someone were to report it, then they would prosecute him and imprison him for speaking negatively of the topic; there was limited freedom of speech. With this assertion of government force on the people, Tito was able to hold a leash on the people and keep them tamed. This helped his government and his goals of keeping the people together and not defying his rule.
Another aspect of Tito and his regime that proved to be successful in his time was providing his people with a freedom which no Communist government in any nation has executed before. My mother once said, “In Prijedor (Bosnia and Herzegovina), there was enough freedom and safety for the kids to go out and play and for homeowners to leave their doors open freely. Although there was freedom in this aspect, there was limited freedom in politics and religion.” While there might not have been freedom in politics and religion, which most communist governments withheld from the public at that time, Tito wanted Yugoslavia to branch out more which resulted in his defiance against Josef Stalin and his Soviet Union. This also brought to light his decision to make Yugoslavia more decentralized and less repressive compared to the other communist states during the Cold War. Tito saw the many problems the Soviets were undergoing at the time and he didn’t want to be under someone who couldn’t make the situation better for the people, instead Tito branched out and wanted to gain trust and loyalty from his people by creating more job opportunities and an expansion in selling popular goods at the time such as refrigerators, washing machines, etc[11] . Slavenka Drakulić[12] , a Croatian journalist, along with many others were lucky to experience this type of industrialization in Yugoslavia and commended the Federal Republic for improving standards of living and providing freedom to the people. However, Slavenka, mentions how she didn’t support the idea of how Tito was able to brainwash and convince the Yugoslav society into thinking that communism was the best government for the republic[13] . People traded their lives for a government that would later on go corrupt and fall apart. The reason why many people fell into this trap into thinking that the communist ideas was the best option for them was the implementation of propaganda around the republics so that they can truly believe that the communist government was their best option. If the people didn’t agree with this at the beginning, then the government would’ve fallen apart almost immediately. Since propaganda played a huge role in Yugoslavia, like in many parts of the world, no matter their government, the people were able to remain loyal and trust the government/republic for what it was. After the end of World War II, many people in the Republic were living in poor conditions, but Tito’s Five Year Plan (1947-1952) [14] was to change that and bring happiness to the state and to the people. This idea also allowed people to believe in this chance that Yugoslavia is giving more job opportunities, better lifestyles, etc.


The role of Tito in Yugoslavia and the breakup of Yugoslavia


Many people in the republic felt happy with Tito in power because they felt that he was trying his best to connect with the people and try to find something that would benefit them. Tito even used his police and security forces to hunt down war criminals and anyone who aligned with the Serbian and Croatian nationalist’s so that those who were victims of their crimes (genocide, rape, etc.) would see the good that Tito was trying to do for the people. He even used his police forces to get rid of cominformists[15] because not many people aligned with the idea of communism, so to ease tension in the country, Tito had them removed this way people can trust him to get certain jobs done.
All in all, Tito proved to his nation that he can be a loyal ruler to his people, but not all people in Yugoslavia respected him and trusted him. Going back to Tito’s promise to the Bosnian people, he promised that the Bosnian people would have their country name proclaimed as one of the republics in Yugoslavia and that they would have as many rights as the leading republic’s did was never fulfilled. Most of the Partisan soldiers were of Bosnian descent since they wanted to free their lands of Nazi control. Another reason why most of the soldiers were of Bosnian descent was because the Serbs and Croats were fighting each other while fighting the Partisan army at the time. More importantly, after the Partisan’s regained control of the Balkans, the Serb Chetniks and Croatian Ustasha replaced their military caps with Partisan ones at the end of World War II, so as to not be recognized and executed for their crimes. This particular gesture from Tito and his communist party will prove to be a fundamental mistake and a main cause of the breakup of Yugoslavia shortly after his death. Instead of prosecution and facing penalties under the court of law, the terrorist cells (Chetniks and Ustasha), were rewarded with leading roles in Tito’s communist party. Almost immediately after Tito’s death, we have seen a rebirth of these terrorist regimes in Serbia, Croatia, and Montenegro, which was the main cause of the breakup of Yugoslavia, and later in the aggression on Bosnia and Herzegovina and ultimately ended with yet another genocide on the Bosnian Muslim (Bosniaks) population. Moreover, a war criminal in particular of the Chetniks terrorist organization, Draža Mihailović[16] , who committed many atrocities on the Bosnian people, was captured by Tito’s regime and executed on July 17, 1946, for his war crimes - genocide on the Bosnian Muslims. A Serbian historian, Vladimir Dedijer[17] (a close associate of Tito), wrote similarly to this in a book of his, Genocid Nad Muslimanima 1941-1945[18] (Genocide on the Muslims). A Bosnian author, Dr. Smail Čekić[19], wrote similarly to Dedijer speaking about the genocide on the Bosnian Muslims[20]. Mihailović was also held on trial for his war crimes against the Albanians, Jews, and Gypsies. Anyways, the Bosnian people didn’t get what was promised to them and what they deserved as their justly right in the their own lands. In fact, they weren’t allowed to even say who they were and what they were. They were only allowed to say that they were “Yugoslavian”. On the other hand, many people respected Tito because he was able with his security forces to capture war criminals and bring them to justice.


Chetniks in aggression on the Bosnia


In the Balkans, religion and nationalism were the two big differences each republic had with one another[21] . These differences were the reasons why there were so many uprisings in Yugoslavia during Tito’s reign. Although he was able to control these uprisings using governmental force, he wouldn’t be able to control these riots and protests for too long. These protests between the republic’s resemble to a virus. The virus is present in the host, although it could be treated, it still has a way of arising and forming a stronger barrier against treatments. The same goes for the people in Yugoslavia, although they were beat down, they managed to rise again with a bigger number of people and keep pushing until the government wasn’t able to do anything about it.


Healing war criminals: Chetniks and Ustashas


It wasn’t too long after Josip Broz Tito’s death on May 4, 1980, that tensions only grew larger in the state because of nationalistic views. During Tito’s time, those who held onto their nationalistic views and didn’t want to expose themselves so as to not get blacklisted awoke after his death. With this awakening in nationalism, it wasn’t too long until the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia would meet its demise as well. Tito made a fundamental mistake at the end of World War II, when he allowed two terrorist organizations, the Chetniks and the Ustasha to join the Partisan’s movement without being prosecuted for their crimes in the court of law. Their crimes were pushed under the rug. Almost immediately after his death, these two terrorist regimes have come from under the shadow of the communist party which was being attacked and weakened from the inside by people who endorsed terrorist organizations in question, and to some point idolized them. If the Chetniks and Ustasha regimes and their followers were dealt with, just as the international community dealt with the German fascists and the Nazi movement, history would be different.

Into the late 1980’s, when Slobodan Milošević[22] came into power, that’s when tensions only grew larger as the Serbian state saw themselves superior to the other republics; they saw themselves as “Greater Serbia”, which was a continuation of the idea the terrorist Chetniks had during their movement. Due to unease in the state, one by one, republics disbanded from Yugoslavia in which Serbia and Montenegro threatened war with each of them. The first two countries to go out was Slovenia (1991) and Croatia (1991), then Macedonia (1991), later Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992), afterwards Montenegro (2006), and finally Kosovo (2007). The most hit country by war amongst the republics was Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992-1995). Amongst the ongoing problems of republics declaring independence from Yugoslavia was the historical background between Serbia and Croatia on one side and Bosnia. Serbia and Croatia, throughout history had territorial pretension on Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to a so called historical agreement between the presidents, war criminals, Slobodan Milošević of Serbia and Franjo Tudjman[23] of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina was supposed to be divided between Serbia and Croatia, those who would not agree with that would be killed. Unfortunately that is exactly what they were trying to do, and for the most part have succeeded, by committing genocide on the Bosnian Muslim population. The International Tribunal in Den Haag, Netherlands, had sentenced Serbian political and army leaders with over 1200 years of prison time for aggression and genocide committed in Bosnia. The same court has sentenced Croatian political and army leaders with more than 150 years in prison for aggression and forming concentration camps for Bosnian Muslims, for atrocities against civilians and forming International Criminal Enterprises called Croatian Entity of Herceg-Bosna.



While many people might’ve loved Tito for who he was or didn’t love him at all, his showcase of force, propaganda, and an implementation of a better lifestyle for the people of Yugoslavia truly showed that he was able to hold the Republic as one unit. John Campbell, the author of Tito’s Separate Road: America and Yugoslavia in World Politics, wrote this journal in 1967 in which he said, “The succession to Tito may be managed quite smoothly.” [24] After Josip Broz Tito passed away, it wasn’t long after that Yugoslavia fell apart due to a leader who wasn’t able to manage the people “quite smoothly”. On the contrary, those leaders who were in office after Tito’s death created situations and tensions amongst the republics that similarly resembled to a ticking bomb waiting to explode; which is what happened in the 1990’s during Yugoslavia’s breakup and downfall. Seeing as how this book was written 13 years before Tito’s death, many people believed that Yugoslavia would keep going because of the success it had with a leader like Tito in charge. Even people outside of Yugoslavia, like Mr. John Campbell, believed it too. Anyways, although there were ongoing problems during Tito’s reign, most of the time, he was able to counter these problems because of the imposing power he had on the people. He was the only leader throughout the different kingdoms/governments that were implemented that really connected with the people and was able to gain their trust. Was he a good man? Was his heart in the right place? History will prove it. What we do know for sure is that he was able to keep the different nations in Yugoslavia from battling one another and from keeping the state from not separating during his time. He was able to not allow tragic events like the wars and genocides in the 1990’s to take place during his time because of the grip of power he held on the people. Tito was successful at this part in his job, which is why and how he won over the hearts of many people in Yugoslavia and in the world.


Bibliography:


- Campbell, John C. Tito's Separate Road: America and Yugoslavia in World Politics. Harper & Row, Publishers, 1967

- Drakulic, Slavenka. “Memories of Tito's Regime: My Fatherland.” The New Republic, 6 Feb. 1995, pp. 15–17.

- Staar, Richard F. The Communist Regimes in Eastern Europe. 2nd ed., Hoover Institution Publications, 1971. Revised Edition

- Maclean, Fitzroy. The Heretic: the Life and Times of Josip Broz-Tito. Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1957.

- Dedijer, Vladimir, and Antun Miletić. Genocid Nad Muslimanima 1941-1945. Svjetlost, Sarajevo, 1990.

- Čekić, Prof. dr. Smail. Genocid nad Bošnjacima. MAG, 1996. Sarajevo, Dokumenti


FOOTNOTE / REFERENCE


1] Josip Broz Tito (b. May 7, 1892 - May 4, 1980) was the former President of Yugoslavia and only President in Yugoslavia to serve for life.
2] Josef Stalin (b. December 18, 1978 - d. March 5, 1953) was the former General Secretary of the Soviet Union (1922-1952) and the nations Premier (1941-1953).
3] Serbs and Croats at the time had the largest population and he didn’t want their nationalistic views to interfere with his goal to keep the Republics of Yugoslavia together.
4] World War I: was a international war that began in 1914 and ended in 1918 with the Allies defeating the Central Powers.
5] World War II: was a international war that began in 1939 and ended in 1945 with the Allies defeating the Axis.
6] Chetnik (Četnik): A Serbian Terrorist organization created and led by Draža Mihailović with the intent to wreak havoc on the surrounding countries but more of the people because of who and what they were. The main people that were affected by this organization were the Bosnian Muslim (Bosniak) population.
7] Ustasha (Ustaša): A Croatian Terrorist organization created and led by Ante Pavelić with the intent to wreak havoc on the surrounding countries but more of the people because of who and what they were. The main people that were affected by this organization were the Bosnian Muslim (Bosniak) population. Ustasha along with the Nazi’s held and killed thousands of Serbian Orthodox, Bosnian Muslims, Jews, and Gypsies in Jasenovac, a concentration camp in Croatia.
8] Anti-Fascist Council of National Liberation of Yugoslavia (AVNOJ): the main goal for this organization was to be prepared with a plan of what would be of the country post-war and how Yugoslavia would be led. As a result, the committee in this council elected Tito as their President of the National Committee of Liberation.
9] Campbell, John C. Tito's Separate Road: America and Yugoslavia in World Politics. Harper & Row, Publishers, 1967.
(Chapter 8, Tito: The Home Front, Page 137)
10] Goli Otok was an island that was used as a prison and it was used during the Yugoslav era that was in use between 1949 and 1989.
11] Drakulić, Slavenka. “Memories of Tito's Regime: My Fatherland.” The New Republic, 6 Feb. 1995, pp. 15–17.
(Memories of Tito Regime, Page 17)
12] Slavenka Drakulić, age 69, is a Croatian journalist, novelist, and essayist whose works on feminism, communism, and post-communism.
13] Drakulić, Slavenka. “Memories of Tito's Regime: My Fatherland.” The New Republic, 6 Feb. 1995, pp. 15–17.
(Memories of Tito Regime, Page 17)
14] Maclean, Fitzroy. The Heretic: the Life and Times of Josip Broz-Tito. Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1957.
(Chapter 12, Gathering Storm: Page 301)
15] Cominformist: someone spreading communism throughout the world.
16] Draža Mihailović (April 27, 1893 - July 17, 1946) was a Serbian terrorist and general during World War II. He created a terrorist organization called the Chetniks.
17] Vladimir Dedijer (b. February 4, 1914 - d. November 30, 1990) was a Yugoslavian Partisan, author, historian, and human activist.
18] Dedijer, Vladimir, and Antun Miletić. Genocid Nad Muslimanima 1941-1945. Svjetlost, Sarajevo, 1990.
19] Dr. Smail Čekić, age 65, is a Bosnian Muslim author, who is currently a professor at University of Sarajevo and was a Director for more than 20 years at the Institute for the Research of Crimes Against Humanity and International Law of the University of Sarajevo.
20] Čekić, Dr. Smail. Genocid nad Bosnjacima. MAG, 1996. Sarajevo, Dokumenti
21] Staar, Richard F. The Communist Regimes in Eastern Europe. 2nd ed., Hoover Institution Publications, 1971. Revised Edition
(Chapter 8: Yugoslavia: Land of the Southern Slavs - Page 182)
(Chapter 8: Yugoslavia: Land of the Southern Slavs - Page 190)
22] Slobodan Milošević (August 20, 1941 - March 11, 2006) was the former President of Serbia (1989-1997) and President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1997-2000). He was charged for war crimes in connection to Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo by the International Criminal Court.
23] Franjo Tudjman (b. May 14, 1922 - d. December 10, 1999) was a General for the Yugoslavian Army and after the breakup of the state, he became the President of Croatia. Many generals and officers alongside Tudjman all participated in the wars in the Balkans, including the genocide on the Bosnian Muslims.
24] Campbell, John C. Tito's Separate Road: America and Yugoslavia in World Politics. Harper & Row, Publishers, 1967
(Chapter 8, Tito: The Home Front, Page 150)

(December 16, 2018)



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