Wife of Marshal Tito and Yugoslavia's First Lady
Born: December 7, 1924; Died: October 20, 2013.
Jovanka Broz, who has died aged 88, spent three decades as Yugoslavia's First Lady but was left stateless and forgotten as war shattered the socialist federation built by her husband, Josip Broz, known as Tito. She had lived largely in isolation since Tito's death in 1980, squirrelled away in a crumbling state-owned villa in the Serbian capital.
Born in Croatia, the daughter of Serbian peasants, Mrs Broz became a nurse with Tito's Partisan fighters during the Second World War, then his personal secretary and finally his third wife in 1952. He 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. She enjoyed wearing furs and diamonds and playing hostess to international leaders, heads of states including the Queen and celebrities including Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
In the late 1970s, she was suddenly removed from the public eye as the party elite grew increasingly suspicious of her influence over the elderly president. There was a suspicion in some circles that she was plotting on behalf of Serbian generals who hoped to control the succession.
Whatever the explanation, the couple's marriage never recovered. Tito moved out of their home, although they did not divorce. When he died, three days short of his 88th birthday, his funeral gathered heads of state and dignitaries from across the Cold War divide, including Margaret Thatcher and ailing Soviet president Leonid Brezhnev.
Soon after Tito's funeral, the authorities confiscated all the couple's property and personal belongings and placed Mrs 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 Mrs 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 Mrs Broz in the winter of 2005, said. "It was unbearable. Jovanka was wearing all her winter clothes."
In 2009, she was finally granted a Serbian passport, and although 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, she 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.
We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules, which are available here.
Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.