Josip Broz Tito
Marshal Josip Broz Tito; born Josip Broz; 7 May 1892 – 4 May 1980 was a Yugoslav revolutionary and statesman, serving in various roles from 1945 until his death in 1980. While his presidency has been criticized as authoritarian, his economic and diplomatic policies were quite successful, and he was a highly influential public figure abroad. Viewed as a unifying symbol, his internal policies successfully maintained the peaceful coexistence of the nations of the Yugoslav federation. He gained international attention as the chief leader of the Non-Aligned Movement, working with Jawaharlal Nehru of India and Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt.
Josip was born as the seventh child to Croat father Franjo Broz and Slovene mother Marija Javoršek in the village of Kumrovec in Austria-Hungary. Drafted into military service, he distinguished himself, becoming the youngest Sergeant Major in the Austro-Hungarian Army. After being seriously wounded and captured by the 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).
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 (1943–63) and later President (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. According to biographer Jasper Ridely, as of 1996, Tito's funeral was the largest funeral in history.
Tito was the chief architect of the "second Yugoslavia", a socialist federation that lasted from WWII until 1991. Despite being one of the founders of Cominform, he was also the first (and the only successful) Cominform member to defy Soviet hegemony. A backer of independent roads to socialism (sometimes referred to as, although incorrectly, "national communism" or more correctly "Titoism"), he was one of the main founders and promoters of the Non-Aligned Movement, and its first Secretary-General. He supported the policy of nonalignment between the two hostile blocs in the Cold War. Such successful diplomatic and economic policies allowed Tito to preside over the Yugoslav economic boom and expansion of the 1960s and 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 and went into a series of civil wars and unrest that lasted the rest of the decade and continue to impact most of the former Yugoslav republics to this day. He remains a controversial figure in the Balkans.