Croatia: Historians Row Over Significance Of Tito

Debate on Tito role in Yugoslavia


On 4th May, 1980, Josip Broz Tito, communist leader of former Yugoslavia, passed away and it just happens that this year on the 35th anniversary of his death two prominent Croatian historians appeared for just over 6 minutes on the HRT News program.

Historians agree only in one thing and that is that Tito was a historical personality and they do not agree as to his role. For some he was an antifascist, a victor in war, founder of the Non-Aligned movement and for others he was a dictator,” said the news anchor, seeking opinion from her two guests.

Prof. dr. sc. Tvrtko Jakovina (University of Zagreb) said that “Tito was all of those things …”
Dr. sc. Ivo Lucic (Croatian history institute) said that “in talking about Tito we need to look at what has survived after his death, and nothing has survived, Yugoslavia had not survived, nor had socialism in which he invested so much effort, the economy had caved in… Only myth exists, and when you see those people that gather around the places that celebrate Tito they say they come to bow to the man because he secured a nice youth for them – of course some lived better then than now, but not all…

That’s why we must talk about the other dimensions, about human rights, political murders, liquidations of political opponents abroad, about Goli Otok (Barren Island/communist held hard labour and political prisoner camp), about the many people sent to prison … We are talking about what Tito represents today …what does the former lifelong president of Yugoslavia represent to Croatia today … what would that be which we could value today? I think – nothing… Some people often say Tito was good because he secured war plunder for us…I’m often horrified when I hear: yes he stole, but he gave some of what he stole to us …”

Regarding the question as to how much did Tito know about the communist crimes and murders Tvrtko Jakovina said : “I think Tito knew about everything, of course he knew, he was the lifelong president … we are talking about a man who has been dead for 35 years and we talk about him as if he were still here…”

Why can’t we still talk about him from a distance or calmly, asked the TV news anchor.

Ivo Lucic: “We can’t because he is not dead yet…just look at the construction they say about him…that he is the greatest son of the nation that he is not the father of the nation like others, therefore he’s some sort of sanctity…like Son of God so son of all our nations … a cult was build around his personality all his life and building of that cult had continued and is being built today …and that no longer has connection with politics or historiography, that is epics…”

Jakovina: “I’m not of epics or poetry but of history and I deal with that period of history … he is absolutely a very important historical personality, the likes of which we will not have again … we can discuss as to whether he was good or bad but he was important and that is why this debate”.

Oh, Tvrtko Jakovina – you transparent agitprop!


Croatia has its very important historical personalities and Tito is not one of them, but Franjo Tudjman certainly is!
If there were enough politicians and people in authority who made it their business during the past 20 years to keep showing Tito and communist Yugoslavia for what rotten entities they were then Croatia would be in a much better place today. Instead, the pro-Communists keep on blindly glorifying Tito to the point where it actually interfered and interferes with progress. Perhaps this TV news segment on 4 May will actually have a positive effect in that more and more people will actually see how hopeless, incompetent and self-absorbing Tito really was – and then the Croatian people can move on without the baggage that keeps falsely “whispering in their ear” that life was better under communism! It was not!

We all need to remember that the first years of Tito’s government (from 1945) saw him work aggressively and brutally to secure his position in power. He swiftly led the purging of non-communists, mass murders took place almost daily in the two to three years post-WWII. Following the declaration of the Yugoslav Republic in November 1945, many show trials took place of accused Nazi collaborators and important figures in the Catholic Church; often tailoring and fabricating evidence against the accused.
The policy of worker self-management introduced by Tito fairly swiftly triggered a series of conflicts within the Yugoslav federation. Decentralisation meant that power shifted from the federal government to the individual republics within Yugoslavia. Then, in the early 1970s, Croatians campaigning for further decentralisation were also victims of a purge, providing a reminder of the ruthlessness deployed by Tito to secure his authority.
The fact that the Yugoslav economy spent at least 20 of its last years under the conditions of external debt growth of over 17 percent per year suggests that the structure of the economy had formed in such a way that the future survival of the economy depended on the future enlargement of the debt. And some people thought Tito was great at his job! The obscenely and cruelly high debt he racked up finally came knocking on the door and economic disasters followed, one after another – throughout late 1970’s and 1980’s.

The way I mark the 35th anniversary of Tito’s death is: Never again will you or the likes of you touch my life! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)


  1. When dealing with major figures such as Tito it’s inevitable historians will differ as to significance and impact..whether we like these men or not..and many of them were indeed terrible..
    they leave a mark.
    A fine serious sharing once again, Ina.
    Thank You.

    Big Hugs


    • True, John – however some historians are painted with red paint and others not and given that Croatia had paid heavily in red blood to get away from communist blood, historians painted red are quite intolerable, really – especially when one is after the truth. Hugs back 🙂

  2. David Byler says:

    I am most certain that Tito is not my mother’s son.

  3. I’d hoped Croatia could forget Tito after his death and after seeing those who want to glorify him still. They should want their country to move on and get out of debt and take it’s proper place in a world open to them and not a closed world like they once had.
    xxx Huge Hugs Ina xxx

  4. I don’t understand why Croatians keep bringing up the Tito debate. It’s no way to move forward as a nation constantly bickering over the past and it’s colourful figures.

  5. Stipo Blazevic says:

    Tito was a profoundly contemptible man

    • Stipe your original comment was moderated due to vulgarity of original word used – even though many would agree with you the policy of this blog is not to publish vulgar words that might offend some even if they do describe the subject person quite well – cheers and thank you

      • Stipo Blazevic says:

        Sometimes one needs to vent. This is one of those times. I wish Cro’s could move on, but the legacy of communism keeps holding the people back.
        I love the idea of Freedom, I apply positive thought & prayer in my life, I find it works well.

      • Indeed, Stipo – positive thoughts and prayer do work well but it will take a bit of time still for the commies or ex-commies to reach the stage in their minds where they too will benefit from this. In the meantime we bear it and work on improvements

  6. I wanted to drop by and say hello. I look forward to reading and following!

  7. Dear Ina….
    Tossing aside the differences, Tito makes me think of Perón in Argentina… Also here Historians are split, and some of the might consider him a fascist…
    Going further the ¨young peronistas¨ were divided in a right a left wing so as to say… These kind of leaders are always polemic, aren’t they?… Plus, when certain social principles are present, it might be even more difficult to be assertive when it comes to define these movements and leaders, as Populism can be confusing
    Great post and very interesting reading…
    Best wishes to you, Aquileana :star:

    • I can relate to why Tito reminds of Peron in instances of such articles as this. One often wonders, Aquileana, whether the impotence of current politicians feeds their need to bang on about the “greatness” of past leaders, who in effect may only have been “great” in maintaining a poltical system under which many suffered. Thank you and cheers

  8. Hi! I have nominated you for the Premio Dardos Award! Please stop by my blog and pick up your award at

  9. I enjoyed reading this very much. Thank you.

  10. Like your article and certainly the Serbian-Croatian relation can be improve by good will by Serb with the return of the sculpture.
    Also having grow and live close to Croatia in north east Italy had been much influence by Tito as he was well know and fear as he was supporter by USSR. I thing with out too many information that he like to be in power and that like many other had used repression and killing for found his ideology. Unfortunally nearly every country had innocent blood in the hand, his had more that usual. Certainly should not be regarded as a good economical and political leader as you said. He had kept the countries from develop economically and politically.

    • Yes Luigi, it’s obvious you know much about Tito and his terrible deeds and ways. Such a blessing Tito’s times are gone and there’s much work still to serve his memory the way it should be and condemn him on national level not only as dictator but as criminal and murdered like others who know have

  11. Like your article Inavukic and certainly the Serbian-Croatian relation can be improve: will help if Serb return the sculpture as a gesture of good will.
    Having grow and live close to Croatia in north east Italy had been much influence by Tito as he was well know and fear as he was supporter by USSR invasion was not excluded. I thing without to many information that he like to be in power and that like many other had use repression and killing for found his social ideology and to keep in on as you point out.
    Sadly many countries had innocent blood in the hand, Tito more that usual. Certainly should not be regard as a good economical and political leader as you said. He had keep the countries from develop economically and politically

    • Yes Luigi, Tito knew how to fool the West during the cold war years – he made them believe he had moved away from Stalin and USSR, to make that lie more believable he activated himself into the Non-Aligned movement, but all the while supported the USSR … that is obvious even today even though he has been dead for decades. Thank you

  12. NewCroatian says:

    The Facists can cry as much as they want, it will not change the history in which we won and gave them the total humiliation by making them exiled while we enjoyed the fruits of victory and lived in our own lands!

    • And then, NewCroatian – the majority who were neither fascist nor communists ousted the communists – “you” – out of Yugoslavia and formed an independent Croatia and “you” do not like it. “You” did not exile anybody, just murdered innocent people who wanted freedom.

    • Veronika says:

      Stupidest comment I have read on this site. ‘NewCroatian’ if you are going to comment, at least have it make some sense.
      Anyone who thinks Tito is a hero needs their head examined.

  13. I find it amazing that still today such a large number of people in Croatia worship at the altar of Tito, even after all the truths and facts have been revealed. The cult personality is stronger than facts. Tito may have been a key player in defeating Nazis in the territories, but he immediately committed equal atrocities by killing and imprisoning his opponents. He went from Anti-fascist to fascist overnight; except that his fascism was branded communism. What’s the difference? Murder, suppression, totalitarianism under a different name is still totalitarianism. It’s like praising a serial rapist for saving a drowning child. He’s still a serial rapist. Wake up people.

  14. Franjo Suker says:

    Tudman was never important like Tito. He only led us to war and ruin.
    Yugoslavia was a great country, one of the most important in the world. Today Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Slovenia, Kosovo and Montenegro are just a joke.

    • Tudman led nobody into war but he led the people well into defence against aggression form Yugoslav army and Serbs and that bothers you Franjo Suker it seems. Yugoslavia was awful place for all except communists and their sympathisers and that is why it fell apart and Tito is among top ten mass murderers in history in the world. You can say what you like but the facts are there.

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