Josip Broz “Tito” Research Paper

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Josip Broz “Tito” was born in Kumrovec, Croatia, on May 7, 1892. His first contact with political and social issues came in October of 1920 when he joined a union of metallurgy workers. In 1929, because of his active participation as political agitator, he was imprisoned for five years. After his release in 1934, he became a member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, then located in Vienna, Austria, and in 1937 he became the Secretary General of the Central Committee of Yugoslavia.

After the German invasion of Yugoslavia in 1941, Tito became the national leader in the fight against the foreign occupation. It is during this period that his role as the leader of the Yugoslav people became clear, and he was soon able to attract a much wider base of support. His charismatic personality, his successful military guerrilla tactics, and his idea of a united Yugoslavia had a wide appeal. In addition to the Communists, he was joined by various resistance groups, such as the Chetniks of Draza Mihajlovic, the Serbian resistance leader. After the liberation of the country in November 1943, Tito negotiated what would become the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and became marshall of the new Yugoslav government.

Tito’s Legacy

Tito ruled Yugoslavia as prime minister and chief of defense from 1945 until 1980. His ruling style appealed to both communists and noncommunists, and he unified Yugoslavia in a more liberal form of communism, commonly referred to as “Titoism.” However, this independence from mainstream communism created a schism between Tito and Joseph Stalin, the Soviet Communist Party leader, in 1948.

Although Tito succeeded in unifying the Yugoslav people, he faced many challenges in keeping this unification peaceful. Many viewed Yugoslavia as a single unified nation, but it was actually a federation of different republics and two autonomous regions. Tito was trying to hold this federation together by fighting nationalistic tendencies in both the Serbs and Croats. He also had to heal the wounds accumulated during the area’s war-torn past. One way Tito preserved the nation was through a more liberal economic policy that enabled the Yugoslavs to travel and often work in Western European countries. This policy contributed to the stability of the period. Tito’s open policy toward both the West and the East contributed to good relations with various nations that were otherwise politically opposed to each other. As a result, citizens of some communist European countries, such as Czechoslovakia or Hungary, could vacation in Yugoslavia, where they were joined by Western European tourists from Germany and Italy. Furthermore, in 1961 the first conference of the states of the Non-Aligned Movement was held in Belgrade. In 1971, Tito established a twenty-two member collective presidency, which was composed of the presidents of the six republics and the two autonomous provincial assemblies, in addition to fourteen members chosen from the republican and provincial assemblies for five-year terms. Tito was elected chairman of the new presidency.

While his policy of openness provided positive economic incentives to Yugoslavs, Croats and Slovenes benefited more than those in the other regions because of their proximity to Western Europe. Being the most economically advanced in Yugoslavia, the Croats and Slovenes resented having to transfer their profits to the poorer regions of Yugoslavia, which was a way for Tito to minimize discrepancies and redistribute wealth. This inequality between republics fueled increased nationalistic feelings from states such as Serbia and Macedonia, which did not benefit as much from the same trade. Croat and Serb nationalists who promoted independence were exiled, and many were assassinated in their new countries of exile, where they were planning insurgencies to break up Yugoslavia. Many were also sent into forced labor camps in different parts of Yugoslavia.

Tito’s legacy came under threat in the 1970s. The economic downturn in the 1970s came as a consequence of rising foreign debt, inflation, and economic inefficiencies. Furthermore, Croatian nationalist secessionists were pressuring for independence, and Tito had to crack down on them by tightening the dictatorship. However, upon his death in 1980, the nationalist sentiments came to the surface and exploded in what became the Yugoslav civil war, which led to the breakup of the federation in the early 1990s.

Yugoslavia After Communism

As a consequence of ethnic tensions, the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s was seen by some as inevitable after fifty years of Tito’s suppression of the Croat and Serb nationalist movements. First, Slovenia and Croatia, the two most economically advanced republics of the federation, were no longer willing to be tightly controlled by the central government and share their economic wealth through redistribution to poorer republics. The disappearance of Tito’s tight control also created an opportunity for Croats to declare independence, while the Serbian nationalists wanted to preserve a claim over Yugoslav territories, including Croatia. The war eventually spilled into the republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which to this day remains divided into cantons.


  1. Auty, Phyllis. 1970. Tito: A Biography. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  2. West, Richard. 1994. Tito and the Rise and Fall of Yugoslavia. New York: Carroll and Graff.

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