Josip Broz Tito (Cyrillic: Јосип Броз Тито, pronounced [jǒsip brôːz tîto]; born Josip Broz; (7 May 1892 – 4 May 1980) was a Yugoslav revolutionary and statesman, serving in various roles from 1943 until his death in 1980. During World War II he was the leader of the Partisans, often regarded as the most effective resistance movement in occupied Europe. While his presidency has been criticized as authoritarian, and concerns about the repression of political opponents have been raised, Tito was "seen by most as a benevolent dictator" due to his economic and diplomatic policies. He was a popular public figure both in Yugoslavia and abroad. Viewed as a unifying symbol, his internal policies maintained the peaceful coexistence of the nations of the Yugoslav federation. He gained further international attention as the chief leader of the Non-Aligned Movement, working with Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt and Sukarno of Indonesia.
He was General Secretary (later Chairman of the Presidium) of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia (1939–80), and went on to lead the World War II Yugoslav guerrilla movement, the Partisans (1941–45). After the war, he was the Prime Minister (1944–63), President (later President for Life) (1953–80) of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY). From 1943 to his death in 1980, he held the rank of Marshal of Yugoslavia, serving as the supreme commander of the Yugoslav military, the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA). With a highly favourable reputation abroad in both Cold War blocs, Josip Broz Tito received some 98 foreign decorations, including the Legion of Honour and the Order of the Bath.
Josip Broz was born to a Croat father and Slovene mother in the village of Kumrovec, Croatia. Drafted into military service, he distinguished himself, becoming the youngest sergeant major in the Austro-Hungarian Army of that time. After being seriously wounded and captured by the Imperial Russians during World War I, Josip was sent to a work camp in the Ural Mountains. He participated in the October Revolution, and later joined a Red Guard unit in Omsk. Upon his return home, Broz found himself in the newly established Kingdom of Yugoslavia, where he joined the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (KPJ).
Tito was the chief architect of the second Yugoslavia, a socialist federation that lasted from 1943 to 1991–92. Despite being one of the founders of Cominform, soon he became the first Cominform member to defy Soviet hegemony and the only one to manage to leave Cominform and begin with its own socialist program. Tito was a backer of independent roads to socialism (sometimes referred to as "national communism"). In 1951 he implemented a self-management system that differentiated Yugoslavia from other socialist countries. A turn towards a model of market socialism brought economic expansion in the 1950s and 1960s and a decline during the 1970s. His internal policies included the suppression of nationalist sentiment and the promotion of the "brotherhood and unity" of the six Yugoslav nations. After Tito's death in 1980, tensions between the Yugoslav republics emerged and in 1991 the country disintegrated into a series of wars, inter-ethnic conflict and unrest that lasted the rest of the decade, and which continue to impact many of the former Yugoslav republics. He remains a controversial figure in the Balkans.
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