Childhood & Early Life
Josip Broz was the seventh child of the couple Franjo and Marija Broz. While his father was a Croatian, his mother belonged to Slovene.
Young Broz enrolled at a primary school in Kumrovec in 1900 and completed his early education in 1905. Two years henceforth, he moved to Sisak to train himself as a machinist’s apprentice.
Upon completing his training, he joined the Social Democratic Party of Croatia and Slavonia. In the following years, he worked as a metallurgy worker for various organizations in Kamnik, Cenkov, Munich, Mannheim and Austria.
In 1913, he was inducted in the Austro-Hungarian army. After completing a non-commissioned training, he was appointed as a sergeant in the war against Serbia in 1914.
His heroic antics earned him the status of Sergeant Major in the Austro-Hungarian Army. In 1915, he was transferred to the Russian front, where he fought ceaselessly before being wounded and captured by the Russian army.
After being medically treated, he was sent to the prisoner-of-war camps. However, his tenure at the prison did not last long and soon attained freedom in 1917 when revolting workers broke into the prison.
He actively participated in the Bolshevik propaganda and July Days demonstrations in Petrograd. Though arrested yet again, he soon freed himself and escaped to Omsk, Siberia, where he joined the Red Guard unit following the October Revolution.
In 1920, he moved to his native place, Croatia, which had become part of the newly established Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes.
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Returning to Yugoslavia, he joined the Communist Party, which won the 1920 elections gaining 59 seats. However, a state ban against communist activities led him to relocate to Veliko Trojstvo where he found work as a machinist.
In the years to come, he took up various jobs finally being appointed secretary of Metal Workers' Union of Croatia in Zagreb. Meanwhile, he continued to function as communist party member, reviving his links and working underground.
In 1928, he finally took up the position of Zagreb Branch Secretary of CPY. Assuming the post, he carried out various anti-government activities in the form of street demonstrations and the like.
His activities against the authorities did not last long and he was arrested and imprisoned for five years. However, all through the trial he portrayed a courageous demeanour which won him respect of party members.
It was in the jail that he met Moša Pijade, who became his ideological mentor. Also, during this time, he took up the title of Tito. Upon his release, he moved to Vienna, and became a member of the CPY Politburo.
For a year from 1935 to 1936, he worked under the orders of CPY Secretary General Milan Gorkić in Soviet Union. Under his guidance, CPY became increasingly powerful and functional developing new ties with militants.
The death of Gorkic in 1937 led to his appointment as the CPY Secretary General. He formally assumed the role in 1939 and organized an underground minicongress in 1940. Attended by 7000 members, the congress discussed the leftist strategy that needed to be employed.
During the German invasion of Yugoslavia in 1941, CPY was the only organized and functional political group. Making most of the opportunity, he urged the people to unite fight against occupation.
He established a military committee within CPY and was appointed Commander in Chief. Under the national liberation struggle, he concealed the ultimate aim for seizure of power by CPY.
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Establishing communist dominated liberation committees, his Partisans became a threat not just for the invaders but for the royal government-in-exile and its domestic exponents, the Serbian Chetniks of Dragoljub Mihailovic.
Being the only leader of the Yugoslavia resistance, the Allies recognized him and the Partisans at the Tehran Conference. A treaty was signed which led to the merger of his government with King Peter II’s government-of-exile.
Following the Treaty of Vis, King Peter urged the Yugoslavia nationals to come under Tito’s leadership failing which they would be called traitors. Tito was then recognized as the provisional Prime Minister of Yugoslavia, in addition to being Commander-In-Chief of Yugoslav forces.
In October 1944, the Soviet army aided by Tito’s Partisans liberated Serbia thereby sealing the fate of Yugoslav dynasty. By 1945, the Communist party emerged as the main controller of the Yugoslavia.
Gaining massive popular support, he earned the title of being the ‘liberator of Yugoslavia’. He attained overwhelming electoral victory thus becoming the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The country was renamed Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia.
His crucial role-play at liberating Yugoslavia led him to believe that the country could follow its own interest in contrast to other Bloc states that had to recognize Soviet as their guiding force.
Consolidating his powers, he formed a new constitution in November 1945 for the country. He conducted trials of all imprisoned collaborationists and opposition figures. He then aimed to develop relations with Albania and Greece, which Stalin disapproved.
The excess of imitation irked Stalin so much so that he strived to eliminate Tito from Yugoslavia leadership but without much success. The rift between the two led to Yugoslavia being cut off from the Soviet Union and the eastern European nations, and instead getting close to the Western nations.
Following the death of Stalin, he was conferred with two choices, either to continue his dictatorship and westward inclination or give up the same and reconcile with new Soviet leadership. However, his unique foreign and internal policies led him to sought ties with leaders of developing countries.
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He made Yugoslavia one of the founding members of the Non Aligned Movement and established strong ties with the Third World countries. He was made NAM’s first Secretary General. The first meeting took place in Belgrade in 1961.
In 1963, he officially changed the name of the country to Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. He brought about various reforms in the country, giving people freedom of speech and religious expression.
In 1967, he abolished the need of visa thereby opening its border to foreign visitors. He also actively took part in promoting peaceful resolution in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
In 1971, he was re-elected as the President of Yugoslavia. Following his appointment, he brought about several constitutional amendments that decentralized the country by providing autonomy to the republics.
While the republics had control over education, healthcare, and housing sector, the federals were in charge of the foreign affairs, defense, internal security, monetary affairs, free trade within Yugoslavia and development loans to poorer regions.
In 1974, a new constitution was passed which made him the President for life. He, however, reduced his role in the daily functioning of the country but continued to travel abroad.