Death and state funeral of Josip Broz Tito

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House of Flowers, Tito's mauseloem
Tomb of Josip Broz Tito
Grave of marshal Tito

The funeral of Josip Broz Tito, President of Yugoslavia, was held on 8 May 1980, four days after his death on 4 May. His funeral drew many world statesmen, both of non-aligned and aligned countries.[1] Based on the number of attending politicians and state delegations, it is still regarded as the largest state funeral in history.[2] They included four kings, 31 presidents, six princes, 22 prime ministers and 47 ministers of foreign affairs. They came from both sides of the Cold War, from 128 different countries out of 154 UNO members at the time.[3]

Tito became increasingly ill over the course of 1979. On 7 January and again on 11 January 1980, Tito was admitted to the University Medical Centre in Ljubljana, the capital city of SR Slovenia, with circulation problems in his legs. His left leg was amputated soon afterward due to arterial blockages and he died of gangrene at the Medical Centre Ljubljana on 4 May 1980 at 3:05 pm, three days short of his 88th birthday. The "Plavi voz" (Blue train, official presidential train) brought his body to the capital Belgrade and he laid in state in the Federal Parliament building until the funeral.

Illness[edit]

Tito's health worsened during 1979. He had an arterial embolism in his left leg. In that year he participated in Havana conference of the Non-Aligned Movement. Tito spent New Year Eve in his residence in Karađorđevo. As this event was broadcast on state TV, the people of Yugoslavia noticed that he gave and received best wishes while seated. During this time Vila Srna was built for his use near Morović in the event of his recovery.[4]

On 3 January 1980, Josip Broz Tito was admitted to the Ljubljana University Medical Centre for medical tests on blood vessels in his left leg. On 5 January, after the angiography, he was discharged on home treatment to his residence in Brdo Castle near Kranj, with a recommendation for further intensive treatment of established diagnosis. Angiography revealed that Tito's superficial femoral artery and Achilles tendon artery were clogged. The medical council consisted of eight Yugoslav doctors, Michael E. DeBakey from the United States and Marat Knyazev from the Soviet Union.[5]

Following the advice of DeBakey and Knyazev, the medical team tried to do an arterial bypass. First surgery of blood vessels was done in night between 12 and 13 January.[6] In first, it seemed that operation was successful, but after few hours it was clear it was not. Due to severe damage to the arteries, which led to the interruption of blood flow and accelerated tissue devitalization of left leg, Tito's left leg was amputated on 20 January,[7] as otherwise Tito would die of gangrene. When Tito had been told what awaited him, he resisted the operation as long as possible. In the end, he agreed to amputation.[citation needed] After the second surgery, Tito's health temporarily improved, he began rehabilitation, and on 28 January, he was transferred from the Department of cardiovascular surgery to Department for heart and blood vessels. In first days of February, his health was improving, so Tito could perform some of his regular presidential duties.[citation needed]

As early as January 1980, as it became clear that Tito's life was in grave danger, Yugoslav political leadership begun preparations for his funeral in the utmost secrecy.[citation needed] Tito's wish was that he should be buried in House of Flowers on Dedinje hill, that overlooks Belgrade. Moma Marković, a director for Radio Television Belgrade, was summoned by Dragoljub Stavrev, a vice president in the federal government, to devise plans for broadcast of the funeral.[citation needed]

Marshall Tito died on Sunday, May 4th, 1980 at 3.05 pm in the department of Cardiovascular Surgery, University Clinical Center Ljubljana. He died on the seventh floor, in the small most South East corner room which is today used by cardiovascular surgery fellows. The commemorative inscription in the main hall read "The fight for peoples liberation will be a long one, but would have been longer if Tito never lived" (Pot do osvoboditve cloveka bo se dolga, a bila bi daljsa da ni zivel Tito). The inscription was later removed.

Death[edit]

"Plavi voz" (Blue train), train that carried Tito's coffin from Ljubljana to Belgrade

Tito died at the University Medical Centre in Ljubljana on 4 May 1980 at 3:05 pm, three days short of his 88th birthday. Immediately upon learning news of the death of Tito, a full extraordinary session of Presidency of Yugoslavia and Presidency of the Central Committee of League of Communists of Yugoslavia was held in Belgrade starting in 6:00 pm, on which Tito's death was formally declared via a joint statement to all Yugoslavs:

To the working class, all working people and citizens, all nations and nationalities of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia: Comrade Tito has died.

On the day of May 4th, 1980 at 15:05 in Ljubljana, the great heart of the President of our Socialist Yugoslavia, the President of the Presidency of Yugoslavia, the President of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, Marshal of Yugoslavia, and the Commander-in-chief of the Yugoslav armed forces, Josip Broz Tito, has stopped beating.

Great sorrow and pain is shaking up the working class, nations and nationalities of our country, our every citizen, worker, soldier, war veteran, farmer, intellectual, every creator, pioneer and youth, every girl and mother.

For all his entire life, Tito was a fighter for interests and goals of working class, for the most humane ideals, and desires of our nations and nationalities. Tito is our dearest friend. Seven decades he was burning up in a workers movement. For six decades, he strengthened Yugoslav Communists. For more than four decades, he was the leader of our Party. He was a heroic leader in World War II and in the Socialist revolution. For three and a half decades he led our Socialist country, and he moved our country and our fight for fairer human society into the world history, proving that way to be our most important historic world personality.
—Signed, The Central Committee of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia and the Presidency of Yugoslavia, Belgrade, May 4, 1980, [8]

At the same meeting, in accordance with the 1974 Yugoslav Constitution, as amended, it was decided that Lazar Koliševski, Vice President of the Presidency of Yugoslavia, will temporarily take the office of President of the Presidency of Yugoslavia, and that Cvijetin Mijatović, former member of the Presidency of SR Bosnia and Herzegovina, will take Koliševski's place as state vice president. In accordance with the LCY Statute as amended, former chairman of Presidency of Central Committee of League of Communists of Yugoslavia Stevan Doronjski assumed the post of President of Presidency of the Central Committee of League of Communists of Yugoslavia. Immediately afterwards the Federal Executive Council (government of Yugoslavia) decided to formally announce seven-day total national mourning across the country.[citation needed]

Grief[edit]

It was a Sunday afternoon, and Yugoslavs were enjoying a weekend. Their usual activities were interrupted when the TV screen went black for 30 seconds. After that, Miodrag Zdravković, newsreader of Radio Television Belgrade, read the following statement live on national television:

Comrade Tito has died. That was announced tonight by the Central Committee of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia and the Presidency of Yugoslavia to the working class, all working people and citizens and all the nations and nationalities of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.[8]

On Sunday afternoon, state television would usually broadcast soccer games of the national league. That night the derby in Split between NK Hajduk Split and FK Red Star was scheduled to be aired live on national television.[8] During the live broadcast, when the match was in the 41st minute, three men entered the Poljud Stadium pitch, signaling the referee to stop the match. Ante Skataretiko, the president of Hajduk, took the microphone and announced Tito's death to everyone in attendance. What followed were sudden scenes of mass crying with even some players such as Zlatko Vujović collapsing down to the ground and weeping. Players of both teams and referees aligned to stand in a moment of silence. Once the stadium announcer said "May he rest in peace", the entire stadium of 50,000 football fans spontaneously started to sing "Comrade Tito we swear to you, from your path we will never depart".[8][9] The match wasn't resumed, and it had to be replayed much later in the month as decided upon.[citation needed] The scenes from the match shocked the Yugoslav people now mourning his demise.[citation needed]

Dignitaries[edit]

  Nations that sent state delegations.
  Nations that did not send state delegations, but organizations from those nations did.
  Nations that did not send state delegations

Tito's funeral drew many statesmen to Belgrade. Notably absent statesmen from funeral were Jimmy Carter and Fidel Castro. His death came in the moment when Soviet invasion of Afghanistan ended American-Soviet détente. Yugoslavia, although a communist state, was non-aligned during the Cold War and fearful that the nation might be invaded like Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan. After learning that Chinese president Hua Guofeng would lead the delegation of China, ailing Leonid Brezhnev decided to lead the Soviet delegation. In order to avoid meeting with Leonid Brezhnev and the middle of electoral campaign for the 1980 United States Presidential election, Carter opted to send his mother Lilian Carter and Vice President Walter Mondale as heads of the US delegation. After realizing that leaders of all Warsaw Pact nations would attend the funeral, Carter's decision was criticized by Presidential candidate George H. W. Bush as sign that the United States "inferentially slams Yugoslavs at time that country has pulled away from Soviet Union".[10]

Helmut Schmidt, Chancellor of West Germany was the most active statesman, having meetings with Brezhnev, Erich Honecker and Edward Gierek. British PM Margaret Thatcher sought to rally world leaders in order to harshly condemn the Soviet invasion.[citation needed] While she was in Belgrade, she held talks with Indira Gandhi, Kenneth Kaunda, Schmidt, Francesco Cossiga and Nicolae Ceaușescu. Brezhnev met with Gandhi, Kim Il-sung and Honecker. James Callaghan, President of the British Labour Party explained his presence in Belgrade as attempt to warm relations between his party and Yugoslav communists, severed more than a decade ago after dissident Milovan Đilas was welcomed by Jennie Lee, Minister for the Arts under Harold Wilson. Mondale avoided Soviets, ignoring Brezhnev while passing close to him. Soviet and Chinese delegations also avoided each other.[citation needed]

Tito was interred on May 8 twice. First interment was for cameras and dignitaries. Grave was shallow with only 200 kg replica of sarcophagus. Second interment was held privately during the night. His coffin was removed, shallow grave was deepened. Coffin was enclosed with copper mask and interred again into much deeper grave which was sealed with cement and topped with a 9 ton sarcophagus. Communist officials were afraid that someone might steal the corpse, similarly to what happened to Charlie Chaplin. However, the 9 ton sarcophagus had to be put in place with a crane, which would make funeral unattractive.

State delegations[edit]

Source: Mirosavljev, Radoslav (1981). Titova poslednja bitka (Tito's Last Battle) (in Serbo-Croatian). Beograd: Narodna knjiga. p. 262-264. 

Heads of State[edit]

State delegations of those countries were headed by their heads of state:

Heads of Government[edit]

State delegations of those countries were headed by their heads of government:

Foreign Ministers[edit]

Delegations of those countries were headed by their deputy heads of state, deputy heads of government or their foreign ministers:

Other state delegations[edit]

State delegations of those countries were headed by government ministers, ambassadors or royal house members:

Delegations of parties and organizations[edit]

International Organizations[edit]

Liberation movements[edit]

Political parties[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jimmy Carter (4 May 1980). "Josip Broz Tito Statement on the Death of the President of Yugoslavia". Retrieved 26 April 2010. 
  2. ^ Vidmar, Josip; Rajko Bobot; Miodrag Vartabedijan; Branibor Debeljaković; Živojin Janković; Ksenija Dolinar (1981). Josip Broz Tito – Ilustrirani življenjepis. Jugoslovenska revija. p. 166. 
  3. ^ Ridley, Jasper (1996). Tito: A Biography. Constable. p. 19. ISBN 0-09-475610-4. 
  4. ^ "Raj u koji Broz nije stigao". Blic. 2 May 2010. Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  5. ^ "Specialist consults on Tito". Lodi News. January 7, 1980. 
  6. ^ "Tito surgery succesuful". Beaver County Times. January 14, 1980. 
  7. ^ "8 DOCTORS SAY TITO IS IN GOOD CONDITION; First Official Report on Response to Surgery Strengthens Hope He Will Return to Duties 'Within Limits of Normal' Control Would Likely Continue Concentration on Foreign Affairs". New York Times. January 22, 1980. 
  8. ^ a b c d "Anniversary of Marshal Tito's death". http://yugoslavian.blogspot.com/. 4 May 2009. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  9. ^ Borneman, John. Death of the Father: An Anthropology of the End in Political Authority. Berghahn Books. 
  10. ^ "Bush Blasts Carter For Not Attending Tito Funeral". Lakeland Ledger. May 9, 1980.