Josip Broz Tito (Cyrillic: Јосип Броз Тито, pronounced [jǒsip brôːz tîto]; born Josip Broz; 7 May 1892 – 4 May 1980) was a Yugoslav revolutionary and statesman, serving in various roles from 1943 until his death in 1980. During World War II he was the leader of the Partisans, often regarded as the most effective resistance movement in occupied Europe. While his presidency has been criticized as authoritarian, Tito was "seen by most as a benevolent dictator" due to his economic and diplomatic policies. He was a popular public figure both in Yugoslavia and abroad. Viewed as a unifying symbol, his internal policies maintained the peaceful coexistence of the nations of the Yugoslav federation. He gained further international attention as the chief leader of the Non-Aligned Movement, working with Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt and Sukarno of Indonesia.
Unlike other new communist states in east-central Europe, Yugoslavia liberated itself from Axis domination with limited direct support from the Red Army. Tito's leading role in liberating Yugoslavia not only greatly strengthened his position in his party and among the Yugoslav people, but also caused him to be more insistent that Yugoslavia had more room to follow its own interests than other Bloc leaders who had more reasons (and pressures) to recognize Soviet efforts in helping them liberate their own countries from Axis control. Although Tito was formally an ally of Stalin after World War II, the Soviets had set up a spy ring in the Yugoslav party as early as 1945, giving way to an uneasy alliance.
In the immediate aftermath of World War II, there occurred several armed incidents between Yugoslavia and the Western Allies. Following the war, Yugoslavia acquired the Italian territory of Istria as well as the cities of Zadar and Rijeka. Yugoslav leadership was looking to incorporate Trieste into the country as well, which was opposed by the Western Allies. This led to several armed incidents, notably attacks by Yugoslav fighter planes on US transport aircraft, causing bitter criticism from the west. From 1945 to 1948, at least four US aircraft were shot down. Stalin was opposed to these provocations, as he felt the USSR unready to face the West in open war so soon after the losses of World War II and at the time when US had operational nuclear weapons whereas USSR had yet to conduct its first test. In addition, Tito was openly supportive of the Communist side in the Greek Civil War, while Stalin kept his distance, having agreed with Churchill not to pursue Soviet interests there, although he did support the Greek communist struggle politically, as demonstrated in several assemblies of the UN Security Council. In 1948, motivated by the desire to create a strong independent economy, Tito modelled his economic development plan independently from Moscow, which resulted in a diplomatic escalation followed by a bitter exchange of letters in which Tito wrote that "We study and take as an example the Soviet system," but develop it a different form.
The Soviet answer on 4 May admonished Tito and the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (CPY) for failing to admit and correct its mistakes, and went on to accuse them of being too proud of their successes against the Germans, maintaining that the Red Army had saved them from destruction. Tito's response on 17 May suggested that the matter be settled at the meeting of the Cominform to be held that June. However, Tito did not attend the second meeting of the Cominform, fearing that Yugoslavia was to be openly attacked. In 1949 the crisis nearly escalated into an armed conflict, as Hungarian and Soviet forces were massing on the northern Yugoslav frontier. On 28 June, the other member countries expelled Yugoslavia, citing "nationalist elements" that had "managed in the course of the past five or six months to reach a dominant position in the leadership" of the CPY. The assumption in Moscow was that once it was known that he had lost Soviet approval, Tito would collapse; 'I will shake my little finger and there will be no more Tito,' Stalin remarked. The expulsion effectively banished Yugoslavia from the international association of socialist states, while other socialist states of Eastern Europe subsequently underwent purges of alleged "Titoists". Stalin took the matter personally and arranged several assassination attempts on Tito, none of which succeeded. In a correspondence between the two leaders, Tito openly wrote:
Stop sending people to kill me. We've already captured five of them, one of them 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 a second.
— Josip Broz Tito One significant consequence of the tension arising between Yugoslavia and Soviet Union, was Tito's decision to begin a large scale repression against any real or alleged opponent of his own view of Yugoslavia. This repression was not limited to known and alleged Stalinists, but included also members of the Communist Party or anyone exhibiting sympathy towards Soviet Union. Prominent partisans, such as Vlado Dapčević and Dragoljub Mićunović were victims of this period of strong repression which lasted until 1956 and was marked by significant violations of human rights. Tens of thousands of political opponents served in forced labour camps, such as Goli Otok and hundreds died.
Tito with North Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh in Belgrade, 1957 Tito's estrangement from the USSR enabled Yugoslavia to obtain US aid via the Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA), the same US aid institution which administered the Marshall Plan. Still, he did not agree to align with the West, which was a common consequence of accepting American aid at the time. After Stalin's death in 1953, relations with the USSR were relaxed and he began to receive aid as well from the COMECON. In this way, Tito played East-West antagonism to his advantage. Instead of choosing sides, he was instrumental in kick-starting the Non-Aligned Movement, which would function as a 'third way' for countries interested in staying outside of the East-West divide.
The event was significant not only for Yugoslavia and Tito, but also for the global development of socialism, since it was the first major split between Communist states, casting doubt on Comintern's claims for socialism to be a unified force that would eventually control the whole world, as Tito became the first (and the only successful) socialist leader to defy Stalin's leadership in the COMINFORM. This rift with the Soviet Union brought Tito much international recognition, but also triggered a period of instability often referred to as the Informbiro period. Tito's form of communism was labeled "Titoism" by Moscow, which encouraged purges against suspected "Titoites'" throughout the Eastern bloc.
On 26 June 1950, the National Assembly supported a crucial bill written by Milovan Đilas and Tito about "self-management" (samoupravljanje): a type of cooperative independent socialist experiment that introduced profit sharing and workplace democracy in previously state-run enterprises which then became the direct social ownership of the employees. On 13 January 1953, they established that the law on self-management was the basis of the entire social order in Yugoslavia. Tito also succeeded Ivan Ribar as the President of Yugoslavia on 14 January 1953. After Stalin's death Tito rejected the USSR's invitation for a visit to discuss normalization of relations between two nations. Nikita Khrushchev and Nikolai Bulganin visited Tito in Belgrade in 1955 and apologized for wrongdoings by Stalin's administration. Tito visited the USSR in 1956, which signaled to the world that animosity between Yugoslavia and USSR was easing. However, the relationship between the USSR and Yugoslavia would reach another low in the late 1960s.
The Tito-Stalin split had large ramifications for countries outside the USSR and Yugoslavia. It has, for example, been given as one of the reasons for the Slánský trial in Czechoslovakia, in which 14 high-level Communist officials were purged, with 11 of them being executed. Stalin put pressure on Czechoslovakia to conduct purges in order to discourage the spread of the idea of a "national path to socialism," which Tito espoused
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