Josip Broz Tito

Tito (1892-1980) was a mystery man who ruled supreme over Yugoslavia for 35 years. Secretary General of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, leader of one of two resistance movements during WW2, life-long president of Yugoslavia and a founder of Non-Aligned Movement. German occupation of Serbia and the flight of the King and the Government from the country played neatly to his advantage, as he prepared the way for a communist rule during the anti-fascist struggle. In the aftermath of the war, he banned the King from returning to the country and lived his life regally. A charmer and womaniser, a hedonist of sophisticated tastes, he was a darling to the proletariat, Hollywood stars, communist dictators and European aristocracy alike. Churchill himself, who cordially detested communists, sipped his breakfast bubbly with him.

Unlike other countries of the eastern bloc, Yugoslavia was never behind the 'iron curtain'. Tito defied Stalin’s directives and decided that it would best suit Yugoslavia to pursue its own socialist model. In response, Stalin kicked Yugoslavia out of the socialist camp, and imposed economic boycott. Several years later, Nikita Khrushchev, Stalin’s successor in the Soviet Union, visited Tito in Belgrade and penitently asked for reconciliation. Khrushchev was stunned by lavish soirées and the lifestyle at White Palace. Yugoslavia fostered good relations with all the countries in the world and Yugoslavs had the best of the two worlds and travelled freely worldwide, which made them the envy of eastern bloc countries. Tito’s funeral drew the largest number of statesmen in history (from 127 different nations). It also marked the beginning of the collapse of Yugoslavia.

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