Jovanka Broz

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Jovanka Broz
Јованка Броз
Fotografija Jovanke Broz crnaobela 6.jpg
First Lady of Yugoslavia
In role
14 January 1953 – 4 May 1980
Personal details
Jovanka Budisavljević

(1924-12-07)7 December 1924
Pećane near Udbina, Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes
(now Croatia)
Died20 October 2013(2013-10-20) (aged 88)
Belgrade, Serbia
Resting placeHouse of Flowers, Belgrade, Serbia
44°47′12.21″N 20°27′6.1″E / 44.7867250°N 20.451694°E / 44.7867250; 20.451694
NationalityCroatian Serb
(m. 1952; died 1980)
  • Milan Budisavljević
  • Milica Svilar
AwardsNational Order of Merit Grand Cross Ribbon.png National Order of Merit[1]
Military service
Branch/serviceYugoslav Partisans
Yugoslav People's Army
Years of service1941–52
RankLieutenant colonel
Battles/warsWorld War II

Jovanka Broz (née Budisavljević; Serbian Cyrillic: Јованка Броз, née Будисављевић; 7 December 1924 – 20 October 2013) was First Lady of Yugoslavia as the wife of Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito. She was a lieutenant colonel in the Yugoslav People's Army.

She was married to Tito from 1952 until his death in 1980. Following her husband's death, all of her property was seized and she moved to a state-owned villa, where she reportedly lived under virtual house arrest.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

She was born on 7 December 1924, to an ethnic Serbian family of Mićo Budisavljević and Milica Svilar in Pećane near Udbina in the Lika region of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (now Croatia).[4][5] When she was almost 15 years old World War II broke out in 1939. Her family was forced to flee the violently anti-Serb Ustasha regime that took power in the newly created Nazi puppet state Independent State of Croatia in 1941, which targeted one third of the prečani Serbs for forced conversion to Catholicism, another third for expulsion and the final third for extermination. Their house was eventually burned down by the Ustashas.[6] She joined the Yugoslav Partisans when she was 17.[4]

Life with and around Tito[edit]

Jovanka Broz as a Partisan in the 1940s.

Former JNA General Marjan Kranjc says Jovanka was assigned to the Marshal as early as 1945 as part of the personnel that checked his food and overall cleanliness for the purpose of preventing disease. After the death of Tito's great love Davorjanka Paunović [sr], whose grave is in the Royal Compound in Dedinje, in 1946, Jovanka became his personal secretary according to Kranjc. "In this way she became a part of the inner most security ring around Tito and had to sign a secret cooperation agreement with the State Security Service (SDB), which was the law" - says Kranjc.[7]

Initial relationship[edit]

Milovan Đilas, one of the communist revolutionary movement's leading members and ideologues, and a subsequent dissident, provides more details about Jovanka during this period in Druženje s Titom (Friendship with Tito). According to him, the relationship with Tito was extremely difficult for her:[8]

She never appeared outside of Tito's company. We'd see her many times as she was keeping a vigil for hours in a hallway [while we're holding a late-night meeting inside], to make sure she is available if Tito needs anything as he's going to sleep. Because of that, the wrath and the lack of trust she was receiving from other servants was almost inevitable. [According to what was on offer] the motives for her closeness to Tito could've been explained in endless ways, none of which would show her character in a good light: career climbing, cajolery, malicious female extravagance, exploitation of Tito's lonesomeness... As far as she was concerned, Tito was a war and communist party deity for whom everyone was supposed to sacrifice everything they had. She was a woman deep in the process of comprehending Tito as a man, while also increasingly and devotedly falling in love with him. She was resigned to burn out or fade away, unknown and unrecognized if need be, next to the divine man about whom she dreamt and to whom she could only belong now that he has chosen her.


Jovanka Broz in 1971 during a visit to the Nixon White House, with Tito, president Nixon, and first lady Pat Nixon.

The exact date of their marriage is also subject to debate. The secret wedding ceremony happened either during 1951 or in April 1952; however the location of the ceremony is also not clear. Some sources say it took place in the posh Dunavka villa in Ilok while others list Belgrade's municipality of Čukarica as the location.[9]


Jovanka in her house in June 2009 with Ivica Dačić and Rasim Ljajić.

Many believed her to be a victim of the ambitions of various politicians who managed to manipulate the aging Marshal into turning against his wife. According to Ivo Eterović, a writer and photographer with unprecedented decades-long access to Yugoslavia's ruling couple, "the main culprits for the Tito-Jovanka split are that pig Stane Dolanc and General Nikola Ljubičić".[7] In 1975 Tito left their common home and she did not see him between 1977 and 1980 when he died.[5] After Marshal Tito's death she lived in seclusion in Dedinje, a Belgrade suburb, under house arrest.[4]


Jovanka Broz's tomb in House of Flowers mausoleum, Belgrade.

Broz was hospitalized on 23 August 2013, and died from a heart attack in a Belgrade hospital on 20 October 2013, aged 88.[4] She was buried in The House of Flowers mausoleum.


The book titled “My Life, My Truth”, was released just three weeks before she died and is being sold at newsstands.


References in popular culture[edit]

In the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who, the fictional character of Tegan Jovanka, one of the companions of the Fourth and Fifth Doctors, and one of the longest running companions of the Doctor, got the name as a combination of Tegan, named by one of the producers' niece, and Jovanka, after Jovanka Broz.


  1. ^ a b Povodom smrti Jovanke Broz: Nepravda ostaje (see video) (in Serbian)
  2. ^ Sekularac, Ivana; Vasovic, Aleksandar (21 October 2013). "Tito's widow Jovanka Broz dies aged 88". The Independent. Reuters. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  3. ^ "Jovanka Broz, widow of Yugoslav communist dictator Tito, dies at 88". The Washington Post. Associated Press. 20 October 2013. Archived from the original on 15 November 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d Tito's widow, Jovanka Broz, dies in Belgrade, aged 88 BBC. 20 October 2013. Retrieved 16 December 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Jovanka Broz, first wife of a Communist leader, dies". Tandem Post. 21 October 2013. Archived from the original on 17 December 2013. Retrieved 16 December 2013.
  6. ^ Društvo|Novosti Archived 2009-03-21 at the Wayback Machine (in Serbian)
  7. ^ a b Vreme 800 - Portret savremenika – Jovanka Broz: Tajna sa Dedinja (in Serbian)
  8. ^ Milovan Đilas. Druženje s Titom [Friendship with Tito] (in Serbian).[page needed]
  9. ^ Blic Online | Titova udovica daleko od očiju javnosti Archived 2009-12-14 at the Wayback Machine (in Serbian)
  10. ^ Badraie Archived 2016-03-05 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Badraie". Archived from the original on 2016-03-06. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
  12. ^ Alamy

External links[edit]

Media related to Jovanka Broz at Wikimedia Commons