Competing Visions – Tito and Tuđman

(Part Three) – Dissident

Editorʼs Note:

We believe that this series of articles are both timely and necessary, as understanding a nations culture and philosophy on and off the pitch is necessary for football to achieve its potential.

Derek Miller

by Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar July 9th 2008)

Fully Fledged

Tuđman was now a fully fledged dissident at least as far as Croatia was concerned. In 1971 he was sentenced to two years imprisonment. He had come to question what he believed was Pan-Serbianism disguised as Yugoslavian nationalism.

Tuđman also questioned the extent of casualties reported at the Jasenovac concentration camp, although historical accounts tend to verify the official version rather than Tuđman’s. It also seems odd that he would lay himself open to charges of revisionism and anti-Semitism over something that was on any view a crime against humanity regardless of the precise number of victims.

Nevertheless, Tuđman believed that Yugoslav nationalism had become a weapon to allow Serbs to dominate the other members of the Federal Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia. Economically, he remained loyal as he was regarding the monopoly of power by the Communist Party. His sentence was commuted to nine months, but the rupture with Tito’s vision had already taken root.

Autonomy or Rupture

A decade later Tuđman was jailed again, although this time the writing was already on the wall for Yugoslavia. He served less than a year, but Tito was dead and that had consequences for his vision of Yugoslavia. Slobodan Milošević eventually outmanoeuvred his rivals to seize power, but he was no Tito.

Milošević lacked Tito’s vision, popularity and personality to hold Yugoslavia together. Tito suppressed nationalism, even though Yugoslavs enjoyed some liberties unheard of in the eastern bloc, but even critics like Tuđman didn’t want rupture with Yugoslavia then – all they wanted was greater autonomy for Croatia within Yugoslavia. Milošević played a large part in destroying Tito’s vision.

Tito’s Vision

Under Tito visa requirements were abolished. Yugoslav citizens were allowed to work abroad and return to enjoy their retirements. There was a surprising degree of liberalism compared to the Eastern block governments. Tito died on May 4th 1980. Until the funeral of Pope John Paul II his funeral held a record for foreign dignitaries attending.

His vision of a unified Yugoslavia did not survive him by much. Many of the buildings: squares and streets that were named in his honour have seen their names changed, especially in his native Croatia. Despite their disagreements, which became legion there was one thing Tito and Tuđman agreed on. Football could be used for political purposes.




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