Keeping Tito Afloat Then And Now – The detriment of Yugonostalgia To Croatia

yugonostalgia copy


A form of nostalgia for communist-led Yugoslavia (whether celebrating Tito as a great leader or starting a new organisation or political party that glorifies the so-called Tito’s antifascism) still, after 24 years of independence, interferes with the lives of Croats almost every day. One comes across a plethora of incompatible or opposite reactions in media and on the streets: horror, anger, irritation, longing, romanticising about the past…
Those who react to this nostalgia with horror, anger and irritation are, without doubt, those who remember well the awful reality Tito’s communist Yugoslavia ended up with and want to move further with democracy and as far as possible away from the communist totalitarian regime that once was. Those who long for and romanticise about Tito’s communist Yugoslavia, without doubt, promote an inaccurate economic and political reality of that past – and seemingly want to go back to it!
Why anyone would want to go back to the socialist Yugoslavia system that miserably failed so many is beyond my full comprehension. Be that as it may, I take this opportunity to remind about some facts about that rotten Yugoslavia some misguided or brainwashed people loudly still yearn for. The photos accompanying this article are screenshots of actual and distressing in many ways life in Croatia during 1980’s taken from Croatia TV news and documentary program of that time, a link to which is supplied within this article.



Way back in 1974, when seemingly Yugoslavia thrived as far as the individual was concerned (lifelong jobs regardless of whether one actually produced or worked a full day [hours-long lunch breaks were widespread practice], free healthcare at all levels, paid sick leave available easy and in obscene abundance, 12 months paid maternity leave, free university education where everyone who wanted to study found at least one university faculty to enrol in regardless of high school performance and marks, free movement/travel since 1962 border-opening, many had double incomes: Partisan war pensions dished out at age of around 40 and then holding a paid job as well, children of WWII Partisans in receipt of financial support/scholarships to go and study at a university, corruption and opportunities to steal from employing government owned company were widespread …) a friend of mine who was an Economist and worked for a bank in Zagreb, Croatia, said to me that the economy was at rock-bottom – 94% companies with accounts at the bank had to depend on loans to secure monthly wages for their workers! Month in, month out; year in, year out.
Tito’s regime permitted and facilitated a version of capitalist style consumerism in order to divert citizens’ energies away from political opposition and to create ground for political legitimacy. Tito’s regime failed miserably at teaching the people personal responsibilities that come with living and maintaining a life of such capitalist style consumerism.
The West, particularly the USA, kept Tito afloat with huge injections of funds, loans etc. In her book “Keeping Tito Afloat”, Lorraine M Lees shows, using declassified documents, how “after World War II, the United States considered Yugoslavia to be a loyal Soviet satellite, but Tito surprised the West in 1948 by breaking with Stalin. Seizing this opportunity, the Truman administration sought to ‘keep Tito afloat’ by giving him military and economic aid. President Truman hoped that American involvement would encourage other satellites to follow Tito’s example and further damage Soviet power. However, Lees demonstrates that it was President Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles who most actively tried to use Tito as a ‘wedge’ to liberate the Eastern Europeans.”
Sneakily to the seemingly unsuspecting world, Tito was a macabre, underhanded operator – he overtly and strategically kept both East and West at arms length, actively participated in the creation of the Non-aligned movement in his efforts to appear politically and ideologically non-aligned and thus better his chances of achieving total communist control over the people of Yugoslavia.

Photo: Screenshot Croatian TV 1980's

Photo: Screenshot
Croatian TV 1980’s

The Yugonostalgics and Titonostalgics of today would want us to believe that the Yugoslav (including Croatia) economy under Tito’s rule and vision was built on stable and solid and perfect foundations. But that idea of a robustness of the Yugoslav economy, the idea of “good life” under Tito’s rule was and is a tragic illusion because any “well being”, any “good life” under Tito’s regime existed at the expense of borrowed money that heavily indebted future generations.

Photo: Screenshot Croatian TV 1980's

Photo: Screenshot
Croatian TV 1980’s

And indeed, much of the economic downturn, much of the alarming unemployment and poverty of today are actually the bill that today’s generations are paying for the “good life” under Tito many politically agreeable individuals had enjoyed with other people’s money/loans. Today’s generations of Croatia are paying for the unsustainable economic system of socialist Yugoslavia run by totalitarian communist thugs!

Photo: Screenshot Croatian TV 1980's

Photo: Screenshot
Croatian TV 1980’s

The last ten years of Tito’s rule (he died in 1980) showed alarming and visible signs that the economy was rotten and rotting and heading towards disintegration. Despite the pumping of huge amounts of foreign funds into the country, household income declined sharply in the second half of the 1970s. The annual inflation reached 40% and continued a steep upward trend that would have debilitating effects by late 1980’s (see further in this article). Despite the departure of over 1.1 million workers (or 20 percent of the workforce) to work abroad, the unemployment rate climbed from slightly below 7% to about 12% from 1970 to 1980. These were the giant alarm bells of deep recession but, sadly, were silenced by the communists who kept rotten state of economy away from the public and continued glorifying communism and socialism. The terrible state of the economy was masked particularly by foreign loans of epic proportions. It was usual to hear sighs of relief in the streets in early 1970’s that went like this: “Tito has returned from his trip abroad and brought new loans, all will be alright!”

Photo: Screenshot of Croatian TV in 1980's

Photo: Screenshot of
Croatian TV in 1980’s

In 1980 Tito was on his deathbed and still gave instructions as to how his Yugoslavia must be run after his death! Steep declines in economy tumbled about incessantly. Between 1979 and 1985 living standard in Croatia (and the rest of Yugoslavia) fell by 25%. Unemployment was on the rise. By mid-1984 a survey showed that 25% of families interviewed lived below poverty lines. In June of 1987 inflation was at 150% and rose in 1988 to 250% – and kept going up, according to Croatia TV News documentary made in late 1980’s . Runaway currency devaluation meant that by late 1980’s the Dinar had devalued by more than 1600%.

Photo" Screenshot Croatia TV 1980's

Photo” Screenshot
Croatia TV 1980’s

By late 1970’s shop shelves were regularly empty of most essential household products and one often needed to stand in long lines to buy a loaf of bread. Citizens/families were restricted as to how much of certain essential products they could purchase, e.g. cooking oil, washing detergents, coffee… Chronic shortages of meat saw butcheries empty much of the time. Severe energy shortages meant that electricity power was switched off for days at a time in different areas by rotation. Lack of petrol to run cars and farm machinery etc. ushered in a restrictive roster system for petrol purchase that was based on numberplates ending in an odd or an even number/ some days were dedicated to even and some to odd numbers. People often ran out of petrol by the time “their petrol day” arrived and pushed cars along streets to the petrol station. Scarcity of basic living supplies saw the introduction of coupons or shopping vouchers …


Photo: Screenshot Croatian TV 1980's

Photo: Screenshot
Croatian TV 1980’s

In summary, daily life in Tito’s Croatia (Yugoslavia) turned into an existential nightmare for most. Even the inflow of foreign currency through ginormous foreign loans and remittances of emigrants (that amounted to billions of dollars) was not enough to cover the trade deficit and prevent the steep downfall of that “good life” today’s Yugonostalgics or Titonostalgics hanker for.

Photo: Screenshot Croatian TV 1980's

Photo: Screenshot
Croatian TV 1980’s

Tito’s Socialist regime had developed a culture of dependence, “exceptionalism” and elitism that ridiculed the Westerners’ (including the Croatian émigrés’) pursuits of hard work and individual responsibility for a common and personal good that still seems to linger about. It’s high time the useless old communists are stripped of their power, it’s high time former communist high operatives are lustrated from positions of power at all levels of Croatian government and decision-making. The Yugonostalgics can go and wallow as much as they like in their memory of Tito in the museum dedicated to him in Kumrovec and stop interfering with the progress of democracy and economic recovery. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)


  1. Ina
    There are always those who refuse to let go and move on and their stubbornness is often the cause of others’ suffering.

    Stay strong, Croatia!

    Big Hugs


  2. threalamericro says:

    Excellent debunking of the Tito Religion.

    • Thank you, therealamericro – I’m trying hard to hold my composure at the stupidity of those who live in denial, so I reckon a little reminder of the big nasty things becomes due and then due again and again – hopefully it’ll all sink in one day 🙂

  3. Wilkinson says:

    Communist, former communist and all such riffraff must be removed from the parliament a.s.a.p.

    • Indeed, Wilkinson but to our misfortune such riffraff continues to form new political parties etc…so much work is needed on the education of the public and for those who as we say in Croatia “have butter on their heads” (and butter melts and their misery and badness appears), well they need to get ready to swallow the bitter pill of their fathers’, mothers’ etc, if not their own, sins and wrongdoing and, move on with the rest. Reconcile so to speak

  4. Beautifully said.! Thank you.

  5. Ina, well said. People need to be reminded over and over and over again. The problem is the government-supported media perpetuates this lie, so to do many yugo-types within and outside of the country. I remember seeing the shortages when the war started. We used to call the government-run stores like Prima, ‘Nema Nista.’ Rows of empty shelves. Note too, the folks who lived ‘high on the hog’ in Tito-land will NEVER admit to how things really were. They lived the good, free, high life.
    Remember too, a few years ago when Brenda Brkusic produced her film Freedom From Despair. The best scene in the film is one where she shows actual footage of an American TV reporter filming outside of the government-controlled area where the Sarajevo Olympics took place. He filmed empty stores and miserable conditions and was promptly arrested. It’s amazing to see. I would highly recommend people watch Brenda’s film for more on the real story of Yugoslavia.

    • Yes Erica, I remember those days of shortages and restrictions of electricity and petrol well. Not much footage of it around but people do remember even if the communists did try to conceal the misery they had caused and today’s people are paying the bill for the “high life” communists enjoyed for decades. I agree, Brenda Brkusic’s film Freedom From Despair is absolutely top class and should be in every Croatian home as a reminder of how harsh the communist regime was and how things must never return to that.

  6. We do nostalgia in the UK too, but the politicians trading on it here offer nothing. They hope their vagueness will create false hope: every voter imagines their dreams are supported by the con-men.

    • Perhaps the con-men think that nostalgia itself will be enough for the voter to vote for them, Clare – for an effective psychological effect, in most cases, all the con-man needs to do is to acknowledge the nostalgia and, perhaps, pat the nostalgic on the shoulder. Perhaps that’s where that belief of support comes from. That may be what the politicians count on without needing (or knowing) how to reply to nostalgia. But of course, “we” know better and that is that the “con-men” haven’t a clue they just keep either “quoting” someone or blaming someone.

  7. I am Adrian from Romania.In picture is reality life in Yugoslavia in 1980’s or SR Romania during Ceausescu regim 1984-1989.I dont bielieve. I had another vision about Yugoslavia.

  8. Hope you are well. A really fabulous post and really well written, had to share on news room as featured writers post here:

  9. Reblogged this on 61chrissterry.

  10. …Josip Broz Tito, was NOT an ethnic Croatian/Slovenian and could not speak any language of the former Jugoslavia well! He let the “Serbs” live in luxury, control the secret police, the military officers and the best jobs went to them! The Croatians got the “crumbs” and the worst jobs, so why would anyone want to imitate this imposter, anyway? He borrowed billions of $, produced absolutely NOTHING (except cheap military weapons sold to 3rd world countries), and did so much to destroy the Croatian nation! It’s these vlasi in Croatia (such as Vesna Pusic, Pupovac, Milanka Opacic et al.) who “pine” for the old days and their loser BOZOS such as Josipovic! But, once again, time and time again, at least the Serbians KILL their traitors!
    But, true also, that Dr. Tudjman was a good leader (given the poor quality of Croatian leaders for hundreds of years , he was pretty good!), he still was NOT as good a politician as Slobodan Milosevic!

  11. uspješnosti Jugoslavije je mit?

  12. Ante Saric says:

    Slowly but surely the UDBA house of cards is starting to come down. We have mass killer, Perkovic, on trial in Germany. His main cheerleader in chief, Josipovic, just lost his bid for a second term. Milanovic is facing almost certain defeat in the upcoming elections. Pusic will be gone soon along with her sick sibling Zoran.
    The election of KGK has been a real game changer for Croatia. Karamarko will become Premier in a landslide. The momentum is with HDZ. However, when they regain office, they must have laser focus on the economy.
    They were the party of Croatia independence. Now they have to become the party of economic reform. Some would argue, quite rightfully, that winning the battle against unemployment and poverty is harder than the war with Serbia.
    I believe they can do it. I just hope they don’t squander the second chance they will get.

    • Yes, Ante Saric, the past two decades have been a continuance of war on political grounds and getting a fair chance to move away from communist past that has consistently placed barriers and it’s high time economy gets to be the main if not the only agenda, pushing viciously the communist past well behind. No mercy, I say

  13. Thank you very much and happy weekend ….💗💗💗

  14. wonderful article, most interesting!

  15. Communists/socialists (and anyone sympathetic towards communist/socialist economic policy) come across as entitled losers who can’t stand to see others become more successful than them. They would rather make everyone equally poor and miserable rather than allowing some people to become rich and successful and free. Oh, except of course, it’s alright if our dear communist leaders have numerous houses/villas, fancy cars, clothes and whatnot they deserve it because everything they do is for our own good. Communism/socialism only ever works “in theory” (but barely even that) because it goes against the very nature of humanity. Anyone who insists that capitalism greed is bad for the world whilst worshiping socialist economic and political tactics is a bit deranged.

    • Yep, communist/socialist countries had and have more tycoons than the capitalist ones, that’s for sure. At least the capitalists don’t pretend they’re working for the good of the people. If only there was enough courage in Croatia to strip off all the assets that communists stole from the people and the nation. One day…maybe…not holding my breath, Kat

      • It’s interesting how, even if capitalism and a free market doesn’t work to explicitly help the people, it still does help society by raising living standards. Speaking of actual capitalism, not crony-capitalism.

        They won’t be giving up their looted wealth anytime soon. It’ll take an incredible force of leadership and will of the people to hold them accountable. Far too many social, political and economic problems as it is for people to “worry” about such matters, but ironically the root of a lot of these problems lies in decades long communist mismanagement of the economy, of society, everything. What an awful web they’ve woven.

      • Yes, an awful web, Kat and only firm leadership can lead to a semblance of some decency

    • Alexander Nathaniel Weikle says:

      1. “Communists/socialists (and anyone sympathetic towards communist/socialist economic policy) come across as entitled losers who can’t stand to see others become more successful than them.”

      By the logic related to your comment, all of the following people would qualify as “entitled losers” due to them being socialists:

      A) Albert Einstein
      B) Martin Luther King Jr.
      C) Bertrand Russell
      D) Helen Keller
      E) Nelson Mandela
      G) George Orwell
      H) Oscar Wilde
      I) Mark Twain
      J) Jack London
      K) Upton Sinclair
      L) Charlie Chaplin
      M) Malala Yousafzai

      2. “They would rather make everyone equally poor and miserable rather than allowing some people to become rich and successful and free.”

      I challenge you to quote a single socialist (either living or dead) who as ever advocated for making “everyone equally poor and miserable”. You can’t, because your statement is a complete strawman argument with no truth to it.

      3. “Communism/socialism only ever works “in theory” (but barely even that) because it goes against the very nature of humanity.”

      Socialism is against human nature in the same way and to the same extent that playing videogames or driving cars is against human nature. Whether a system is natural or not is utterly irrelevant to whether it can or cannot work. But even if it were the case that the success of a system is dependent on how natural it is, then socialism would still be a viable system. This is due to the fact that we have dozens of confirmed examples of cooperation both within and across different species of plants and animals, thus providing a natural basis for socialism. For more information on this topic, I recommend that you check out Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution by Peter Kropotkin:

      4. “Anyone who insists that capitalism greed is bad for the world whilst worshiping socialist economic and political tactics is a bit deranged.”

      Is it deranged to say that 9 million people die of hunger and hunger-related diseases?:

      Is it deranged to say that at least 3-4 million people die of water related diseases?:

      Is it deranged to say that more than 3 million people die from vaccine-preventable diseases?:

      I don’t know about you, but I don’t consider millions of people dying every year from lack of resources caused as a result of capitalism to be a good thing. Mind you, this does not take into account any of the deaths caused by colonialism or the hundreds of wars, invasions, depressions and recessions that capitalism has caused over the past 400 years.

      • Well Alexander, the socialist system has proven again and again that the system is not sustainable because there are not enough public resources to afford a good standard of living for all or most as its theory/politic intends. No need to quote single socialists by name I think, because many contribute individually to the system that has proven a disaster for most people. Human beings are naturally competitive in a society in order to better themselves and their lives and socialism tends to want to suppress such natural strivings.

  16. Ivan Papac says:


    • Ivan Papac – your comment has been deleted. One would suggest you do your research right, leave your hate of truth behind, before you go about offending individuals you know nothing about. It is true one cannot change a troll and a bully but one hopes someone will succeed in your case

  17. Luis Sanzo says:

    I was interested about the truth about the existence of a Yugoslavia nostalgia in the countries of former Yugoslavia. So excuse me to arrive to your blog.
    I was with my wife in 1982 in Yugoslavia, in a tourist travel from Spain. We did not see the Yugoslavia you talk about but a country similar to Spain, at a moment where economy in Spain was still not so bad. The critic you do about indebtedness is the same the Republicans use today to critic Obama economics and all of us know it’s the real essence of the financial crisis of 2007-2008 in the United States, a fact that has destroyed much of European South countries. But what definitively we did not see was the destruction you can now observe in the roads near Kistanje. There, next to a graffiti of Ante Gotovina, some people gave us instructions to visit more beautiful place, beaches, Zadar and so on. Even this people know the reality.
    You have right to have a nation dominated by your nationalist view of the world, I don’t discuss that. We are debating about that now in Spain, I am sure you know Catalonia. But I am of these people who think that multinational live is better in multinational countries and, in this perspective, our democratic Spain, even with its economic difficulties, is much better than the post-Tito world of destruction. In Spain, people also suffered dictatorship, Franco’s diktat (a political friend of Ante Pavelic, I am sure you know that). But we never defended the lustration of the people of the dictatorship, even the Communists did not ever defended that. I suppose this open and democratic attitudes from the victims of Fascist Dictatorship is one of the things we must be proud of in Spain. It is the reason most of us will never defend the bombing of Barcelona even in the case of a Catalonia’s unilateral independence.
    I hope you have in the future a better Croatia, democratic and open to all.

    • Thank you Luis, Pavelic did not influence the independence of today’s Croatia nor the economy of former Yugoslavia while Franco ruled Spain from late 1930′ to 1973. Everyone has a right to their opinion and you visited in 1982 the wrong part/wrong families of former Yugoslavia – Dalmatia has always done relatively better that other parts of former Yugoslavia no matter what regime because of tourism; if you went further inland you would have seen empty houses, people gone abroad to work as they could not survive in Yugoslavia, many that remained depended on money sent to them from abroad and by end of 1980’s inflation was over 1000%…it’s nice to live in unity and brotherhood I agree but in Yugoslavia that did not work because one ethnic brother took all the important public positions from the other, communists no matter what ethnicity were installed in positions too regardless of the fact their qualifications were low say for university professor or school principle…I cannot speak for Catalonia but I certainly respect everyone’s view and may the “best man win” in the end. Cheers

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