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Tito is Ours

Josip Broz Tito (1892-1980)

Many Sarajevans and Bosnians look back on the Yugoslav Socialist period with great nostalgia. The city itself writes Donia, "underwent an unprecedented transformation" and it grew from less than one hundred thousand people at the end of the Second World War to over half a million by 1991. It was a period dominated by one man, even in the first years after his death, Josip Broz Tito (1892-1980), who along with his Partisans had refashioned Yugoslavia at crucial meetings in Bosnia during the war. One of the most important decisions they took was to create a federal state, in which Bosnia-Herzegovina was to remerge within its historic frontiers and as a republic in its own right.

Tito first visited Sarajevo in November 1945 and returned many times thereafter. Huge crowds greeted him, and banners were hung across major streets along his entry route. During his last visit a few years before his death in 1980, he entered the city from the east in an open-top Mercedes that followed the route Franz Ferdinand had taken in 1914. Aged and corpulent, he sat erect in the car's back seat. Rather than receiving a hearty reception, he was greeted with subdued, reverential applause by the thousands lining his route of entry. Those in the crowd seemed honored just to have laid eyes on him. As he slowly alighted and entered the hotel, a chorus of girls in folk costumes greeted him with flowers and chanted "We are Tito's, Tito is ours." His reception, in short, benefited a saint more than a political leader. Nowhere was Tito more revered than in Sarajevo.

[p.239]

Sarajevo: A Biography. 2005. Robert Donia [C. Hurst & Co]

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