Josip Broz Tito was a Yugoslav revolutionary and statesman, serving in various roles from 1943 until his death in 1980. During WWII 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 and concerns about the repression of political opponents have been raised, 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.
The Golden Age of Yugoslavia
Beyond everything, Tito’s dictatorship is still referred as “The time when God was walking on Earth” by the people from most of the ex-Yugoslavian countries. He was the most beloved person among the Yugoslav people, always seen as a symbol of brotherhood, unity, and prosperity. He was and is maybe the only beloved communist dictator in the world.
Even today, there are many homes where there is an “icon” of Tito hanged on the walls. Contemporary historians, anthropologists, political scientists, and other professionals do not always agree with the assumption that Tito was a “benevolent “dictator, suggesting that his reign was authoritarian and repressive. However, what is done is done and even if people were only hypnotized by his charm or fell under his spell, he is certainly one of the most beloved politicians of the modern age.
Letters to Tito
Tito’s health worsened during 1979; he had an arterial embolism in his left leg. People in Yugoslavia were devastated during his illness, a national sadness that was only surpassed by the grieving after he died. Tito’s death was the saddest news people could hear. Nothing was the same after his death and people never really got over it. Generations born after his death were still part of the collective praising of Tito and the collective grieving of his death.
Recently, a collection of letters sent to Tito during his illness, by elementary school students was published. The plot of the letters is astonishing. Especially when you imagine children expressing their love towards the president.
Bellow, you can read the translation of these letters:
Dear Comrade Tito,
All I’m thinking about every day is when will you recover… You always fought for freedom, peace and the well-being of our homeland… Now, you are fighting for your life. This time, as any in other battles, I wish for you to gain a victory.
LIVE, MY BELOVED TITO
Dear Comrade Tito,
I, a student in a sixth grade am, first of all, wishing you to recover soon. Every day, I’m feeling intense while hearing the news, awaiting what are the new updates on your health. The wish of all Yugoslavian pioneers is for you to continue ruling our socialist homeland for a long, long time for the well-being of all nations in the world. All children in the world love you and respect you, our dear Comrade Tito.
Our beloved Comrade Tito, it’s our wish for you to fight the illness as soon as possible and that you keep on being our leader in the building of the movement for an irrepressible spreading of socialism, freedom, integrity, democratic relations among the nations and a leader of our Army. For a long time now, stay our captain on the boat of history.
In this hour, while you are fighting one more difficult battle in your life, we wish you to know, that there would be an endless happiness when we find out that you won it as any previous because our homeland is happier with you.
Your soldiers, the sons of heroic nations, who grew up in free, socialist, self-governed homeland, want to tell you that they will keep following your path on which we walked happily and proudly until now, strongly and without a doubt.
Dear Comrade Tito
We are happy that your health in improving. We knew that your illness can not separate you from us and that you will continue to lead us towards peace and freedom.
Comrade Tito, father of the world peace!
Your illness breaks my heart.
Dear Tito, recover as soon as you can,
it’s much dear to us to live with you.
WITH TITO TOWARDS NEW VICTORIES!
WE GO AHEAD!
Note that grown-ups today claim that this wasn’t their school task, that they weren’t forced to write letters, that everyone was writing letters. That they were honestly expressing pain and wishes for the well-being of Tito. Tito received millions of letters from all around the world while he was sick.