What did Tito think about Vietnam?

The doctors fight for the life of the Yugoslav head of state. The West fears the outbreak of a crisis on Europe's southern flank: Serene at the end of the Tito era


Read on one side

When the as yet unknown partisans of Yugoslavia fought against Hitler's divisions in the Bosnian and Montenegrin forests without any international support, the injured, gangrene-affected guerrillas often had their legs or arms amputated without anesthesia. They suffered and they died with the names of Stalin and the Soviet Union on their lips. When, last weekend, an international team of doctors in the state-of-the-art clinical center in Ljubljana had to remove the left lower leg from the most respected of all partisans, "the last Habsburg" and "political giants of this century" (New York Times) after hardening of the arteries and tissue branch, the whole world was led by the Soviet Union in the mouth. The "fraternal aid", the penetration of the Red Army to the Mediterranean Sea - which Tito's partisans once dreamed of - became the warning message of the West immediately after the Afghanistan shock. Scenarios, apocalypses and science fiction books by imaginative generals were rolled out so widely by the media, as if they drove the desire for doom. Excited military experts in the West and communist sectarians in Albania have already discovered Soviet soldiers massaging on the Yugoslav border. NATO denied it.

Only the Yugoslav multi-ethnic state reacted calmly and composed. He demonstrated that the inimitable anarchy of the southern Slavs, which Tito has directed for 35 years, is by no means a playground for chaos. The collective state and party leadership created by the "last Yugoslav" himself - it is staffed according to national proportional representation and as a trustee for the diverging Internet. Serbs, Croats, Slovenes and other peoples thought - acted judiciously. As in China's invasion of Vietnam, she increased readiness for the army, but no mobilization for any; Troops. The addressee of this order was not so much Moscow as the Yugoslav people, who, prepared for Tito's death, were to be committed to the seriousness of the international situation and to their own responsibility. A daily, concise bulletin about Tito's illness - contrary to the usual secrecy about the health of Communist leaders - dampened speculation.

The Yugoslavs curbed curiosity and nervousness. Fear of an imminent invasion was revealed by few. Many, of course, shared the conviction that the Kremlin would intensify its thirty-year war of propagandistic and psychological campaigns in order to finally get the country of origin of the national-communist heresy under control again. But the otherwise so divided southern Slavs put calm and discipline over all worries. What struck the hour did not have to be told to the last multiethnic state in Europe this time with desperate unity roll calls. Josip Broz, son of an impoverished Croatian farmer and a Slovene woman, who later gave himself the names Zagorac, Rudi and finally, Tito in the communist underground, was dying once before. That was 65 years ago. On the Carpathian front during the First World War, a Czech lance had the 22-year-old spy troop leader of the k u k. Army hit. Broz recovered at a Russian prisoner-of-war hospital, learned Russian, read Tolstoy, Turgenev, later Lenin, and after the October Revolution joined the "International Red Guard". These formative years influenced Tito's lifelong tightrope walk between East and West, between the communist dogmas of the tough revolutionary "and the Kakan compromises of a baroque Alpine prince. They also explain Tito's always ambivalent attitude towards Moscow. When the Kremlin respected him and his country, it pulled more to the east than to the west. When Stalin, Khrushchev and Brezhnev blackmailed him, he resisted - so loudly that the communist house clash always made the world sit up and take notice. But until the end Tito did not want to be a communist heretic. To the accusation of "arch-revisionism "To wipe out of history, he traveled to Beijing at the end of his years and reconciled himself with the Chinese leaders. He was and remained the unyielding hero of a national Legeride, the legend of the indissoluble unity of the southern Slavs. A Jan Hus, an avowed one He was never a heretic, only because of the traditional Russian expansion of power over the socialistis When solidarity won, he became an involuntary pre-reformer of national communism.

So he created from the poor peasant climes between West and East - they had only been amalgamated from the inheritance of the Habsburg Empire in 1918, but had already become a swamp of nationality quarrels before Hitler's division - the most humane and keenly willing society that had ever been built with communist goals has been. The last pilgrims, Stalins, Roosevelts, Churchills, Hitler’s and Mussolini’s could only do themselves and not the Yugoslavian idea of ​​annihilating iQysJtq rn gcjieri. Even before the Second World War, royal Yugoslavia lacked an ideology that spanned nations.

After Stalin's break with Tito in 1948, Belgrade countered Soviet state capitalism with the slogan of the Paris Commune and the Russian civil war in 1950: "The factories for the workers!" The workers' self-government helped to make Yugoslavia an open country, to defeat the gray octopus of bureaucratic centralism, which to this day stifles all initiatives in the other socialist countries. But in the role of the overriding state ideology, self-government could not become the link for the diverging national, cultural, religious and economic interests. It collided with the party and the workers, with rule from above and the material interest from below "Direct democracy on the basis of self-administration", as the party magazine admitted as early as the early 1970s that it was incompatible with the system of party rule ".

In the factories, the workers' councils concentrated on their own wage packet, on quick distribution instead of long-term profit making. The hunt for short-term profit led to a cardinal error in the Yugoslav economic conception: entrepreneurs and self-governing units invested in manufacturing; Hardly anyone was interested in the development of raw material sources because it did not generate any short-term profits. For example, Yugoslavia created a steadily growing trade deficit even before raw material prices rose, reaching close to two and a half billion dollars last year. The calculations for life on credit, for the investment rush, for inflation, which has barely been combated since 1960 (it was over 20 percent in 1979) have been passed on to the workers for years. In most companies there can be no question of profit-sharing; the companies can hardly pay the minimum wages.

Why was Tito able to rock Yugoslavia so successfully through all the cliffs and crises that most of the citizens hardly noticed the seriousness of the situation? The secret of his domestic political balancing act lay in the infallible, but also indivisible, feeling of this pragmatic power politician that the Yugoslav multi-ethnic state must in reality not be based on an ideological concept. That was the driving force of his permanent upheavals. Tito let the old partisans continue to wage war uninterruptedly with campaigns and cannonades against external and internal enemies. The unspoken aim of the upheavals and rotations was to divert attention from the national and economic disparities and to provide external impetus for taming them.

Via the print archive

Via the print archive

This text is part of the many hundreds of thousands of articles in the ZEIT archive since 1946. Automatic text recognition ("OCR") was used to digitize the contents of the archive, which were available as printed paper in the early years. This is the only way to process the enormous amounts of text. However, even a well-engineered technology can reach its limits: the older the original, the higher the probability that the automated reading process will encounter problems with individual words. This is why it happens that the digitized archive content still contains errors at certain points. We are working hard to eliminate these imperfections.

Use is only permitted within the limits of §53 Urhg for private use by a natural person. You can find more information about the options for licensing usage rights here.