Tito, Josip Broz

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Tito, Josip Broz

(yô`sĭp brôz tē`tō), 1892–1980, Yugoslav Communist leader, marshal of Yugoslavia. He was originally Josip Broz.

Rise to Power

The son of a blacksmith in a Croatian village, Tito fought in Russia with the Austro-Hungarian army in World War I and was captured by the Russians. He served with distinction in the Red Army during the Russian civil war of 1918 to 1920. Several years later Broz returned to Croatia and, while a metalworker, became a prominent union organizer. He was (1929–34) imprisoned as a political agitator. In 1937 the Comintern assigned to him the reorganization of the Yugoslav Communist party, and in 1941 he emerged as a leader of Yugoslav partisan resistance forces after the defeat and occupation of Yugoslavia by the Axis Powers. It was then that he adopted the name Tito.

Although the core of his partisan army was Communist, Tito's rapidly growing forces included many non-Communists. Despite the opposition of the Yugoslav government in exile, which supported the Serbian resistance leader Draža MihajlovićMihajlović, Mihailović, or Mikhailovich, Draža or Dragoljub
, 1893–1946, Yugoslav soldier.
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, Tito's army and its successes soon eclipsed those of Mihajlović and his chetniks. Among the causes of his success were his swift guerrilla tactics, his own magnetic personality, and the appeal of his political program—a federated Yugoslavia—to the non-Serbian elements of the population. Although they cooperated at first, Tito and Mihajlović soon clashed.

By 1943, Tito headed a large army and controlled a sizable part of Yugoslavia, centered in Bosnia. Tito was supported from the first by the USSR, but in 1944 he also received the full support of Britain and the United States. In Nov., 1944, after the liberation of Belgrade, he negotiated a merger of the royal Yugoslav government and his own council of national liberation, and in Mar., 1945, he became head of the new federal Yugoslav government.

Already the virtual dictator of Yugoslavia, he won a major electoral victory in Nov., 1945, at the head of the Communist-dominated National Liberation Front, whose candidates were the only ones permitted to run in the election. With the opposition abstaining, Tito won almost 80% of the vote. King Peter IIPeter II,
1923–70, king of Yugoslavia (1934–45). He succeeded under the regency of his cousin, Prince Paul, when his father, King Alexander, was assassinated in Marseilles. In World War II, when Paul's government signed (Mar.
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 was deposed, and a republic was proclaimed (see YugoslaviaYugoslavia
, Serbo-Croatian Jugoslavija, former country of SE Europe, in the Balkan Peninsula. Belgrade was the capital and by far the largest city. Yugoslavs (i.e.
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Tito's Dictatorship

As premier and minister of defense from 1945, Marshal Tito ruled Yugoslavia dictatorially. He suppressed internal opposition by such measures as the execution of Mihajlović and the jailing (1946) of Archbishop Stepinac of Zagreb, and he nationalized Yugoslav industry and undertook a planned economy. He did not attempt to collectivize the land of the Yugoslav small farmers, but he forced them, under threat of severe penalties, to furnish large portions of their produce to the state.

Although Yugoslavia was closely associated with the USSR and was a leading member of the CominformCominform
[acronym for Communist Information Bureau], information agency organized in 1947 and dissolved in 1956. Its members were the Communist parties of Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, France, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, the Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia.
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, Tito often pursued independent policies and did not hesitate to curtail the activities of Soviet agents. In 1948 the Cominform accused Tito of having deviated from the correct Communist line. Tito denied the charges and refused to submit to the Cominform, from which Yugoslavia was then expelled.

Having already transformed Yugoslavia into an armed camp, built up a highly efficient secret police, and purged dissident elements in the Communist party, Tito succeeded in maintaining his position despite the hostility of the USSR and his neighbors. Although he accepted loans from the Western powers, he initially did not alter his internal program. In later years, however, he relaxed many of the regime's strict controls, particularly those affecting the small farmers. As a result, Yugoslavia became the most liberal Communist country of Europe.

On close terms with President Nasser of Egypt and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Tito unsuccessfully tried to develop common policies among nonaligned nations. Relations with the USSR were alternately friendly and hostile. In 1968, together with the Romanian party chief, Nicolae CeauşescuCeauşescu, Nicolae
, 1918–89, Romanian statesman. The son of a peasant, he early became active in the Romanian Communist movement and was arrested as a revolutionary; he spent the late 1930s and early 40s in prison, where he became acquainted with the future first
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, Tito led the opposition to the Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia.

Tito was repeatedly reelected president from his first term in 1953, and in 1963 his term was made unlimited. In an effort to provide for succession to the leadership after his death, Tito established (1971) a 22-member collective presidency composed of the presidents of the 6 republican and 2 autonomous provincial assemblies and 14 members chosen from the republican and provincial assemblies for 5-year terms. In July, 1971, Tito was elected chairman of the new presidency.

During the 1970s the economy began to weaken under the weight of foreign debt, high inflation, and inefficient industry. Also, he was under increasing pressure from nationalist forces within Yugoslavia, especially Croatian secessionists who threatened to break up the federation. Following their repression, Tito tightened control of intellectual life. After his death in 1980, the ethnic tensions resurfaced, helping to bring about the eventual violent breakup of the federation in the early 1990s.


See the official biography by V. Dedijer (1953, repr. 1972); the biography by I. Ormcanin (1984); studies by W. R. Roberts (1973, repr. 1987) and N. Beloff (1986).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Tito, Josip Broz


Born May 25,1892, in Kumrovec, Croatia; died May 4,1980, in Ljubljana. Figure in the Yugoslav and international labor movement; statesman and political leader of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Marshal (1943); National Hero of Yugoslavia (1944 and 1972); Hero of Socialist Labor (1950).

Tito, the son of peasants, joined the Social Democratic Party of Croatia and Slovenia in 1910, becoming active in the labor and trade union movement. In the fall of 1913 he was inducted into the Austro-Hungarian Army, and in the early months of World War I, after being arrested for spreading antiwar propaganda, he was sent to the front. Wounded in the spring of 1915, he was captured and taken to Russia. In 1917, Tito was arrested in Petrograd for taking part in the July demonstration against the Provisional Government and sent to the Urals. There, after joining the Red Guards in Omsk in October 1917, he participated with the Bolsheviks in revolutionary activities among the peasants.

After returning to his country in September 1920, Tito joined the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (CPY) and engaged in clandestine party activities. In February 1928 he was elected secretary of the Zagreb committee of the CPY, but in August of that year he was arrested and sentenced to five years at hard labor. Released from prison in 1934, he resumed his work for the party, now as a member of the CPY’s regional committee in Croatia, and in December was elected to the party’s Central Committee and Politburo. In 1935, Tito went to Moscow as a member of the CPY delegation to the Seventh Congress of the Comintern and stayed there to work for the Comintern until 1936, when he returned clandestinely to Yugoslavia. In December 1937 he was appointed general secretary of the CPY’s Central Committee, a position to which he was formally elected at the Fifth Congress of the CPY in October 1940.

During the National Liberation War in Yugoslavia (1941–45), Tito served as supreme commander of the National Liberation Army and partisan forces of Yugoslavia. On Nov. 30, 1943, he became chairman of the National Committee for the Liberation of Yugoslavia. In March 1945 he was appointed chairman of the Council of Ministers, minister of defense, and supreme commander of the armed forces of Democratic Federal Yugoslavia, and in August of that year he was elected chairman of the Popular Front. (The Front changed its name in 1953 to the Socialist Alliance of the Working People of Yugoslavia, and Tito remained chairman until 1954.) In November 1945, Tito became chief of state of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia; from 1953 to 1963 he also acted as chairman of the Federal Executive Council, which constituted the republic’s executive. In 1952 the Sixth Congress of the CPY adopted a resolution renaming the party the League of Communists of Yugoslavia (LCY) and elected Tito its general secretary; Tito became chairman in 1966. In 1974 the Tenth Congress elected him president of the LCY for an indefinite term.

From 1953, Tito served as president of the country. He was proclaimed president for life by the Federal Assembly in May 1974. As president he headed the Presidium of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (a power delegated to him in 1971), as well as the collective Presidency, and he was the commander in chief of the nation’s armed forces. Tito was awarded numerous Yugoslav orders. His Soviet orders included the Order of Lenin (1972), the Order of the October Revolution, the Order of Victory (1945), and the Order of Suvorov First Class (1944). He was awarded several orders by other countries.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.