“Stalin: Stop sending people to kill me! We’ve already captured five of them, one with a bomb and another with a rifle … If you don't stop sending killers, I’ll send one to Moscow, and I won’t have to send another.” - Tito.
Josip Broz died on May 4th 1980 -forty years ago today. Better known as “Tito”, this son of a Croat Father and a Slovene Mother was one of the most important political figures of the 20th century for three sound reasons:
First was his role as a guerrilla leader in Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia during the Second World War. His Partisans were the most effective resistance organisation in German-occupied Europe.
Second was his creation of a socialist model which while not of the liberal democratic tradition -he was claimed by some to be an authoritarian despot and by others to be a benevolent dictator- nonetheless rejected the totalitarian features of the Soviet Union.
Third was his championing of the Non-Aligned Movement during the years of the Cold War.
His funeral was attended by the largest gathering of world leaders at such an event: Brezhnev, Thatcher, Arafat, Saddam, Kaunda, Schmidt, Cossiga and Kim il-Sung were present. The noticeable absentees were US President Jimmy Carter and the Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
© Adeyinka Makinde (2020).
Adeyinka Makinde is a London-based writer interested in history and geopolitics.