News / Europe

Tito's Widow, First Lady of Yugoslavia, Dies at 88

Tito's Widow, First Lady of Yugoslavia, Dies at 88i
|| 0:00:00
...  
🔇
X
October 20, 2013 10:55 PM
Jovanka Broz, who spent three decades as Yugoslavia's First Lady but was left stateless and forgotten as war shattered the socialist federation built by her husband 'Tito', died on Sunday in a Belgrade hospital.
Historical clips of Jovanka Broz and Josip Broz Tito (some without audio)
Reuters
Jovanka Broz, who spent three decades as Yugoslavia's First Lady but was left stateless and forgotten as war shattered the socialist federation built by her husband 'Tito', died on Sunday in a Belgrade hospital.

 

State television RTS said Broz had died of cardiac arrest.


She was 88 and had lived largely in isolation since the death of Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito in 1980, squirreled away in a crumbling state-owned villa in the Serbian capital without a passport or ID.


Born in Croatia, Broz became a nurse with Tito's Partisan fighters in World War Two, then his personal secretary and finally his third wife in 1952.


Tito was 32 years her senior, and presided over a federation of 22 million people balanced between Cold War East and West.


Unlike the grey, staid Communist leaders of the Soviet bloc, Tito and his wife revelled in ostentation and glamour.


Dead three days short of his 88th birthday, Tito's funeral gathered heads of state and dignitaries from across the Cold War divide, including Britain's Margaret Thatcher and ailing Soviet president Leonid Brezhnev.

Life in isolation


Tito's wife had already been removed from the public eye in the late 1970s, as the party elite had grown increasingly suspicious of her influence over the elderly president.


Soon after Tito's funeral, authorities confiscated all property and personal belongings of the couple and placed Broz under virtual house arrest in a dilapidated government-owned villa in Belgrade's hilltop Dedinje district.


With Tito gone and the Cold War over, his widow looked on as nationalist tensions tore apart Yugoslavia in the 1990s, spawning seven new states during a decade of war and ethnic cleansing that killed more than 125,000 people.


Nationalists chipped away at Tito's reputation and legacy, deconstructing the personality cult built around him in an effort to undermine the mantra of 'Brotherhood and Unity' that underpinned Yugoslavia.


His widow was boxed away, out of sight. She lived on a state pension, the villa gradually falling into disrepair.


Then in 2006, responding to a public appeal from Broz's sister, democrats who took power in Serbia with the fall of nationalist strongman Slobodan Milosevic in 2000, undertook to fix the leaking roof and reconnect the heating.


"I remember that it was minus 11 [Celsius] outside and there was no heating in the house," Serbian Trade Minister Rasim Ljajic, who visited Broz in the winter of 2005, said in a recent interview with the Serbian daily Politika.


"It was unbearable," he said. "Jovanka was wearing all her winter clothes."

In 2009, Broz was finally granted a Serbian passport, and though she rarely spoke publicly, she was seen once a year at Tito's mausoleum on the May 4 anniversary of his death.
 

In one of her last interviews, Broz told the Serbian daily Blic that she absolved Tito of responsibility for her estrangement towards the end of his rule. "Tito loved me until his death," she said.


Blic reported that she had asked to be buried next to Tito.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More