Name at birth: Josip Broz
Josip Broz, also known as Marshal Tito or simply Tito, was the Yugoslavian Prime Minister and President from 1943 until his death in 1980. A World War I officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army, he was taken prisoner by the Russians in 1915 and held captive, but soon joined the revolutionaries there in the overthrow of Czar Nicholas II in 1917. He returned to his home country in 1920 and continued to play a role in revolutionary politics, ending up in jail in 1928 for his communist activities. For the next decade he was in and out of jail for political reasons, or living incognito as an agent for the Soviet Union, going by the name "Walter" at first, then "Tito." A leader of the newly formed communist party in Yugoslavia, Tito gained a reputation in World War II as the country's liberator for his role in driving out the invading Axis forces, and by 1945 he was the de facto leader of the new republic of Yugoslavia. Tito pursued a policy of "non-alignment" during the Cold War, breaking with the Soviet Union and Joseph Stalin in 1948, but pursuing an independent path to socialism that caused the U.S. to keep him at arm's length. He tamped down various nationalistic urges in a united Yugoslavia -- some say through cruel repression -- and led the country to an economic boom in the 1960s and '70s. Tito was named President for Life in 1974 after a reformed Constitution was enacted, but he held that post for only a little more than five years. Circulatory problems led to the amputation of one leg, after which he developed gangrene and died just three days before his 88th birthday.
At the time of Josip Broz’s birth, Croatia was part of Austria-Hungary.
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