News 25 May 15

Thousands Join Birthday Party in Tito’s Home Village

People from all over the former Yugoslavia gathered in the Croatian village of Kumrovec, the birthplace of the leader of socialist Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito, to celebrate his birthday.

Sven Milekic
Tito admirers at the celebration.

Thousands joined the celebration on Saturday in the little village of Kumrovec, near Croatia’s border with Slovenia, to mark the birthday of Tito, who died in 1980.

Buses brought Tito admirers from Slovenia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and all over Croatia to the annual event, filling up the preserved peasant village that stands next to the house where Tito was born, despite heavy rain.

Former Croatian President Stjepan Mesic won the greatest applause when he took to the stage and greeted the crowd by calling them “comrades”.

“We are not, as some claim, Yugo-nostalgics, who express their rejection of the reality in which we live through this event,” Mesic said in his speech.

“We are very much aware of this reality, aware of the aggression of historical revisionists, [who are] dragging the national liberation war [the name used for anti-fascist struggle during WWII] and the man who led it, Marshal Josip Broz Tito, through the mud,” he added.

Mesic said that some top Croatian politicians have been attempting to portray Tito’s WWII Partisan forces and those who fought for Croatia’s wartime Nazi-allied regime as equal, and equating the killings of Yugoslav fascists in Bleiburg in Austria with the deaths at the Jasenovac concentration camp in Croatia, where Serbs, Jews, Roma and other opponents of the Nazi-aligned of Independent State of Croatia regime were executed.

“In this way, those who were killed who were all innocent [in Jasenovac] are put on the same level as those amongst whom were a considerable number of people who deserved a death sentence after four-year-long ‘blood orgies’,” he said.

Mesic insisted that Tito, despite his weaknesses, deserved his a place in history. When his microphone stopped working during his speech, he shouted “Death to fascism, freedom to the people”, a well-known Partisan slogan of Partizans, which drew loud applause from the audience.

The event was organised by the Alliance of Anti-Fascist Fighters and Anti-Fascists of Croatia and the Alliance of Josip Broz Tito Associations, as well as the village and county administrations.

The president of the Alliance of Anti-Fascist Fighters and Anti-Fascists of Croatia, Franjo Habulin, said it was a celebration of “the birthday of one of the greatest sons of our region”.

As Partisan songs were sung on the central stage, visitors took refuge from the bad weather in nearby restaurants, bars and the museum of the house where Tito was born.

The museum depicts Tito’s life and his role in WWI. A bust of the former leader was recently installed there after being removed a month ago from the office of the new centre-right Croatian president

The village was reconstructed in Yugoslav times as an ethnographic museum simulating rural life in the late 19th century, when Tito was born, but in the 1990s, after the collapse of Yugoslavia, it fell into decay.

Born Josip Broz in 1892, his nickname Tito came from his codename in the Spanish civil war in the 1930s.

Buses came for the celebration from all over the former Yugoslavia. All photos: Sven Milekic/BIRN.
Tito photos were sold as souvenirs.
An accordionist played well-known Partisan songs.
Tito's fans wore tribute scarves and badges.
A car owned by a Tito enthusiast from the town of Kranj in Slovenia.
Josip Broz Street, the main street in the village.

The flag of the Alliance of Josip Broz Tito Associations.

Tito busts were also on sale.
'In youth is joy, in joy is youth' was the slogan of the event.
Tito's portrait in the audience.
A couple from Slovenia in Tito T-shirts.
President of the Alliance of Anti-Fascist Fighters and Anti-Fascists of Croatia, Franjo Habulin.
Former anti-fascist fighter gathered to honour the memory of their commander.
Police filmed the event for 'security reasons'.
Former Croatian President Stjepan Mesic was the star of the show.
An accordion player lifted spirits in the bar.
Two friends from Slovenia who have visited Kumrovec for years.
A Tito fan visiting the house where he was born.
The bust of Tito that was removed from the office of the Croatian president.
People taking photos next to the statue of Tito.
People got together to play Partisan songs.
Tito's villa in Kumrovec.
Meeting room in Tito's villa.
Living room in Tito's villa.

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