Competing Visions – Tito and Tuđman

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar May 24, 2015 15:36



June 2019
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Competing Visions – Tito and Tuđman

(Part Two) – The Third Way

Editorʼs Note:

We believe that this series of articles are both timely and necessary, as understanding a nation’s culture and philosophy on and off the pitch is necessary for football to achieve its potential.

Derek Miller

by Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar July 9th 2008)

Consolidating Power

Josip Broz Tito won elections in November 1945 and ordered Germans accused of collaboration – the Danube Swabians – out of the country. Tito reorganised the government. The Yugoslav army was made up of partisans. Its leaders appointed generals. A secret police and Department of People’s Security were established to hunt down wartime collaborators.

Croatian catholic priests had collaborated with the Ustaše and helped Ante Pavelić to escape. Peter II was deposed on November 29th 1945 and in March 1946 Draža Mihailović was captured. He was executed on July 18th 1946.

Tito consolidated power with methods characteristic of both dictatorial and democratic means. He was hugely popular after the war, but hunted down collaborators, nationalists and anti-communists in a bid to restore Yugoslavia’s national identity. During his lifetime he succeeded.

He held Yugoslavia together with the force of his personality and where that failed through less pleasant means. Among those to fall foul of Tito’s determination to suppress any nationalism but Yugoslavia’s was Franjo Tuđman, but before the rupture there was a period of cooperation.

Standing Up To Stalin

In 1948 Tito became the only ‘socialist bloc’ leader to stand up to Joseph Stalin successfully as he wanted a strong Yugoslav economy. Stalin took it personally and tried to have Tito killed. Tito’s response is interesting.

“Stop sending people to kill me”, he wrote. “If you don’t stop sending killers, I’ll send one to Moscow and I won’t have to send a second”! Both Tito and the Yugoslav party were expelled from the Cominform and purges occurred in other countries. After Stalin’s death Nikita Khrushchev’s invitation to normalise relations was rejected until both Khrushchev and Nikolai Bulganin personally visited Belgrade to apologise.

Tito was a founder member of the non-aligned states along with Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser: India’s Jawaharlal Nehru, Indonesia’s Kusno Sosrodihardjo (Sukarno) and Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah.

In 1967 Tito proposed a peace plan for the Arab-Israeli conflict that involved Arab recognition of Israel in exchange for the return of land. It was rejected. He also opened Yugoslavia’s borders – the first of the ‘socialist bloc’ to do so.

Relations with the Soviet Union deteriorated again in that eventful year when Tito told Czechoslovak leader Alexander Dubček that he would fly to Prague at three hours notice if he needed help facing down the Soviet Union.

Popularity Abroad

Tito became popular abroad because of acts like this. However, he was determined to hold Yugoslavia together and suppressed nationalism to do it. At first Franjo Tuđman acquiesced. He was a loyal party member and rose rapidly because of it, but also on merit. After the end of Second World War Tuđman worked in the Defence Ministry before attending military academy in 1957.

He also had an interest in football, being President of FK Partisan of Belgrade at this time. He wrote an admired book on guerilla warfare called ‘War Against War’. He became one of the youngest generals in the Yugoslav People’s Army in the early 1960s before becoming Director of the Institute for the History of the Croatian Workers’ Movement – a post he held until 1967.


Before long he was at loggerheads with Tito due to his criticism of the establishment. This came to a head during the Croatian Spring, which developed into a protest movement. It was originally instigated by Tito as a controlled exercise of liberalisation, but developed into a nationalist movement that tapped into dissatisfaction in Croatia at their position within Yugoslavia.

It was then suppressed by the army and police on Tito’s orders as he feared the spread of nationalism. However, most of the protesters’ demands were incorporated into the constitution of 1974.

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar May 24, 2015 15:36
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