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Was Tito really Tito?

July 10, 2012

(Although this blog deals largely with current events it will occasionally delve into historical topics …. because that’s how I roll.)

Who got the last laugh?

First, we’re talking about the longtime Yugoslav leader, born Josip Broz, not any member of the Jackson family. And, up front, the question sounds … odd. But it’s been asked for a long time, and may not be as crazy as it sounds.

Josip Broz, known by his nom de guerre Tito, was unquestionably one of the most successful revolutionaries of the 20th century, leading his Yugoslav Partisans to victory against the Fascist occupiers in 1945, and holding on to the leadership of that fractious Balkan country until his death in 1980. Although he was a sincere Marxist-Leninist, his fateful break with the Soviet Union in 1948 drove Stalin into conniptions and made Yugoslavia something of an associate, if unofficial, NATO member through the Cold War.

But who really was Josip Broz? There has never been any doubt that he was a bona fide International Man of Mystery and large parts of his life remain shrouded in darkness – and Communist hagiography. Born in Kumrovec, in then-Habsburg Croatia, into a peasant family in 1892, to a Croatian father and a Slovenian mother, Broz became a locksmith and moved around Austria-Hungary in the years before the First World War looking for work; unlike nearly all other Communist leaders, Tito had actually once been a proletarian. Little is known for sure about his early life, only a very few pictures survive, but when the Great War came he was serving as an NCO in the Austro-Hungarian Army, fighting against Serbia in 1914 (something which Yugoslav authorities obscured until after Tito’s death, since it looked bad), and then against the Russians in 1915. A good soldier who was decorated for valor, Broz was captured a few months later, badly wounded.

There the path gets convoluted. What exactly he did in Russia as a POW is almost impossible to determine. He returned to his homeland five years later a convinced Communist and joined the underground Soviet-led apparatas a full-time revolutionary. Tito was very much a creature of the Soviet secret police, an “illegal” with 33 NKVD

Whoever he was, I’d like to meet his tailor.

covernames to his credit. Accordingly, he spent the interwar years on the run from the authorities in several countries. Stalin knew him as WALTER, the covername he used the longest. There is little doubt that in the 1930s, when he perfected his clandestine tradecraft (what the NKVD tellingly called konspiratsiya), Tito was in Moscow for extended periods of time – doing what isn’t clear, but there’s little doubt that he played an active role in Stalin’s notorious purges. The Yugoslav Communist Party leadership was all but annihilated by the NKVD in 1937-38, and Tito was more or less the last man standing, leaving him fatefully in control of the party in 1941, when the Axis invaded and dismembered Yugoslavia. Conveniently, he and his cadres had spent the last 20 years living underground and perfecting their clandestine political work, readying for eventual armed struggle. The rest, per the cliché, is history.

There have long been whispers that Josip Broz, Croatian peasant, and Tito, world leader, were not the same man, with the implication that the NKVD switched an impostor at some point. There have been many variations of the Balkan urban legend: the real Broz died in battle in 1915, or in Russian captivity during WWI, or he was killed during the purges in the late 1930s. One version, predictably, claims that Tito was “really” a Jew (and perhaps a Freemason too, for full conspiratorial effect).

As for hard evidence, there has never been any. What is not in doubt, however, is that many Yugoslavs felt that Tito never spoke his native language very well, including people in Kumrovec who didn’t seem to recognize him. He made regular grammatical errors and used malapropisms that normal Croats wouldn’t say. To many, his pronunciation sounded a bit … Russian. When Dragoljub Mihajlovic, leader of the Serbian nationalist Chetnik resistance during WWII, first met Tito in 1941, he thought that he actually was a Russian – and Mihajlovic was far from the last to wonder.

Tito’s defenders have always said that the man had spent so much time in Russia, from 1915 to 1920, and certainly quite a bit of time in the 1930s too, that it had changed his speech patterns, and there was no mystery. Yet the urban legend has never gone away, and periodically new stories will emerge to stir the pot without providing anything conclusive to bolster the “fake Tito” hypothesis.

Yet the U.S. National Security Agency has recently released a paper which sheds important light on this obscure, yet intriguing, topic. Shortly before the Yugoslav leader’s death, “Is Yugoslav President Tito Really a Yugoslav?” appeared in Cryptologic Spectrum, a classified NSA in-house journal. Through close analysis of Tito’s speech patterns, the unnamed author concluded that Tito did not speak Croatian like a native, but like someone whose native tongue was Russian (or Polish). Moreover, Tito’s spoken variance with standard Serbo-Croatian (to use the Communist-approved linguistic term) could not be explained by spending a few years in a foreign country. Given’s NSA reputation as a – and perhaps the – world leader in language analysis, this conclusion deserves to be taken seriously.

The paper can shed no light on who Tito really was – that unfortunately will be left to the conspiracy theorists – yet provides convincing evidence that he was probably not Josip Broz, the Croatian peasant lad. Perhaps the NKVD was even better at creating “legends” for its illegals than anyone suspected. It appears doubtful there’s much light left to be shed on this case, since relevant papers were probably destroyed long ago, plus Tito and his Comintern contemporaries are long dead, yet it now seems fair to take this strange-sounding question out of the realms of weird websites into more respectable venues.

UPDATE, 26 SEP 2015: The NSA link above isn’t working as of today; I don’t know if this is a temporary glitch or permanent so below is the cited article — enjoy!

tito 1tito 2tito 3tito 4

From → Espionage, History

19 Comments
  1. I’ve read somewhere that the same theories exist about Mao. Wish i could remember where i read that…

  2. “and perhaps a Freemason too, for full conspiratorial effect”

    I don’t know anything about Tito, but the Freemason stuff is pretty interesting. We think it’s nuts because in the U.S. the Freemason (e.g., Washington and Franklin) won. But in lots of countries, Masonic lodges were centers of conspiracies because they were the hardest for the monarchy’s secret police to penetrate.

  3. Indeed so. Through the first half of the 20th century all kinds of intel services fought the Masonic Conspiracy. Nazis and Fascists (of course), later Communists too, but in late 1917, when Austro-Hungarian forces occupied NE Italy after the Caporetto offensive, A-H intel ordered its guys to raid Masonic lodges to collect evidence … I have seen the orders with my own eyes, in the Vienna archives.

  4. Reginald De Chantillon permalink

    The anti-Masonic thing is mostly emanating from reactionary Traditionalist Catholic circles. The Hapsburgs as the eminence gras of Altar Crown Catholicism and Counter-Reformation activities were totally opposed to Masonic groups because of the latter’s nationalist and patriotic movements. In the case of Italy, that nation-state was itself created as a Masonic inspired national liberation movement. Thus, the Hapsburg’s anti-Masonry campaign can be seen as part and parcel of a counter-insurgency. In modern Masonry, the more weird and internationalist versions of the Masons are related to the Grand Orient rite which doesn’t require belief in God and has therefore been a focal point of secular idealogues. Don’t forget the Catholic Church was and still is opposed to nationalism whereas the old masonic groups were the spear point of national liberation. Thus, Catholics are opposed to traditional Masonry because of its classical liberal nation-state viewpoints and to Grand Orient Masonry because of its gnostic and often atheistic revolutionary viewpoints. Both types of Masons were of course opposed by Communists and Nazis because they were viewed as competitors. Ironically, in this sense, the Holy See is allied with Commies and Nazis in their anti-Masonry attitudes.

  5. Indeed. Himmler, who was emphatically not a fan of the Vatican, nevertheless praised the RCC for at least being entirely correct about the Masonic threat.

    • Reginald De Chantillon permalink

      Himmler was also christened and raised a Catholic. The obedience to hierarchial standards and fanatical devotionals which he established in the SS was a curious mixture of Jesuit organizational structure, neo-pagan mysticism, Christian militant orders, and psuedo-scientific darwinian secularism.

      After studying the meme which motivated many early Nazis, one cannot but be struck by the parallels between the Nazis and Papacy. Its almost like the Nazis were a grotesque shadow image of the Papacy. This can easily be explained by the predominance of nominal or devote Catholics in the Nazi Party. Although I’ve never believed in the Nazi under every white man’s bed or underneath every Clerical robe in South America thinking championed by the ADL, JDL, or the Simon Weisenthal Center, I do believe that the numbers of surviving Nazis was due to no other fact than being protected and/or secreted out of persecution by the Catholic Church. Of course, I am excluding those which were recruited by the allies after the war.

      Now, to bring this full circle back I will posit the relationship this has with Tito. For, the fact of Catholic-Nazi protection after the overthrow of a state government like Nazi Germany leads one into researching the methodology the Papacy utilized for effecting the protection of its allies, agents, sympathizers, etc within the Nazi Party. When one considers the name changes, creation of new personas, passports, travel networks, etc that the Catholic Church utilizes for managing its clergy, one cannot but be amazed at how this mirrors intelligence services. In turn, one cannot but speculate the likelihood this occurred with the collapse of the Hapsburg Empire, and the sundry numbers of devout Catholics, followers of Hapsburg supremacy, left without their former temporal crown but still united with the mitre crown of the Roman Catholic Church.

      Meanwhile, the Comintern and of course its successors within the organs of the Soviet State, utilized similar methodologies. How likely is it that even before the US began an official covert anti-communist alliance with the Papacy, the Papacy was already engaged in a covert struggle with the Commintern? Furthermore, how likely is it other Western intelligence services (France, Britain, etc) were allied with the Papacy in this anti-Communist crusade before the US even entered the spy game with a real intelligence service.

      Thus, given that Tito was a Catholic, who operated under the Hapsburgs, and was left without his earlier allegiance, isn’t it likely he was recruited into the Hapsburg-Papacy intelligence service, and furthermore, was in turn sent into the Comintern as a Double Agent? Additionally, we know that Tito had relationships with the British prior to his world war ii Partisan alliance. How much is this similar to the many agents the US utllized in the Cold War who were in fact agents of the Vatican? If this is true, it would explain why Tito was one of the only survivors of the original Communist movement leadership in Yugoslavia, the remainder killed by him and the Soviets.

      My theory is Tito was a double, perhaps even triple agent, under ultimate control of either the British or the Papacy, maybe even both. Given Tito’s past bloody purge of original and dedicated Communists a priori the establishment of the Yugoslavian Communist state, and his unwillingness to align with the Soviets, it is unlikely Tito was some sort of Soviet plant, but rather a left-over of old, even ancient power struggles between powers that existed long before Communism ever entered the picture. Once again, explanations of international relations must not be limited to contemporaneous or recent history.

      • Montii permalink

        Actually, Tito was pretty much opposed to catholich church in yugoslavia. Relationships with Vatican was not something that draw conclusions that he was in any way connected with Rome. Still, after his death, catholich church is major opponent to tito’s relicts. After all, he/they killed croatian archbishop stepinac after he spend years in communist prison for suspected colaboration with nazis

      • When did I say Tito’s wasn’t opposed to the Catholic Church?

  6. Himmler, that falled altar boy, quite consciously modeled the SS on the Jesuits; certainly the SS had a quasi-religious devotion and the esprit de corps which once marked the SJ.

    No idea who Tito ‘really’ was but if the Fake Tito hypothesis is true – and plenty of evidence seems to indicate it might be – then the linguistic aspect shows that he was very likely from what would today be Western Ukraine, which was Austria until 1918 and was, not coincidentally, a solid recruiting ground for Communists in the early Bolshevik period, especially among then-East Galicia’s large Jewish population.

    The Vatican certainly ran ops inside the USSR as early as the 1920s, mostly to determine just what had happened to the country’s Catholics (answer: nothing good), but most Vatican intelligence efforts against the Soviet bloc in the 1940s and 1950s were actually deeply penetrated by the KGB and sister services.

    • Reginald De Chantillon permalink

      Ahhh ha ha, yes failed altar boy is a very good pejorative for Himmler. As to Tito, the linguistic aspect is certainly a new piece of evidence. Galicia, certainly was a very Jewish area. The Jewish communities there were considered deeply clannish even among the typically clannish Jewish communities.

      Therefore, if the fake Tito was a “Galiziano” it would pose new speculations. But again, we go back to Lennin’s axiom, ”who benefits.” Thus, what type of Commies did Tito help purge, and what powers benefited from Tito keeping Yugoslavia practically neutral? In the end, clearly Tito was no puppet of Stalin. A trotskyite, a british or vatican agent, or a pure opportunist, will we ever know?

      Going further down the rabbit hole of who a fake Tito could have been, it should be noted that the Mossad officers were almost exclusively recruited from Galiziano Jews, and to this day, the service still has a glass ceiling restricting the upper management to said clannish Jewish antecedents. As a side note, both Feinstein, Leiberman, Coleman, and a few other well known Jewish politicians whose names leave me at this moment, are Galiziano Jews. Indeed, the aforementioned parents’ or grandparents’ all grew up within a one bloc radius of each other in New York City. So apparently, there is a Galiziano glass ceiling here as well…..

  7. Emil permalink

    Explain Tito distancing himself from the Soviets if he was there own guy?

  8. Blessed numerical genetics that Dr. Dragan Primorac and his team of geneticists perfected and only recently published in a seminal textbook on the subject!

    You see, with OBJECTIVE tools like genetics at our disposal – it would be very easy to confirm whether Walter-Tito is or is not the real Josip Broz once and for all!

    Walter-Tito has a son Miso and granddaughter Sasha living in Croatia!

    There are also many living descendants of Josip Broz’s brothers and sisters in Croatia!

    But Walter-Tito’s descendants and his ideological followers don’t want us to know his true identity because they know that the truth would uncover all the ugliness and bestiality of his deeds AFTER WWII. It is much easier to justify genocide perpetrated by Serbs on Croats AFTER WWII by saying it was a Croat who did it to Croats!

    Fact 1: After the WWII Walter-Tito came to see “his” mother who said outright that that man in front of her was not her son Josip Broz! She said that her son had a part of his finger missing after an industrial accident – this Walter-Tito had all his fingers intact!

    Fact 2: Another very indicative fact that Walter-Tito was not Josip Broz stems from the fact that Walter-Tito did not attend “his” mother’s funeral – as well as the fact that the woman, mother of Josip Broz died under mysterious circumstances not long after the meeting with Walter-Tito and the occasion at which she denounced him as her son!

    Fact 3: Walter-Tito never went to “his” birthplace of Kumrovac again, nor did we ever hear of “his” many brothers or sisters or any other of “his” Broz relatives which is very odd considering the copious information we heard about his wife Jovanka’s Budisavljevic family!

    However, who ever this Walter-Tito was – he will be remembered as indisputable tyrant and mass murderer of Croats and will forever be ranked the 9th mass murderer of the 20th century!

    You are still parroting Soviet and Franco-British propaganda, lies and carefully crafted myths about Tito and Serboslavia…

    Both, first and second Yugoslavia, were made by the evil, for the evil and ended in evil!

    May Yugoslavia stay buried on the rubbish heap of history forever more along with all those that supported the monstrosity!

    • If you think I am parroting Soviet lies, you are really, really stupid.

    • ivaray permalink

      Yes, I remember well the story in my grade school about what Tito’s mother said and many jokes people made out of it….. I worked with some of contemporary Croatian historians before over ten years ago and came across a young historian who really scientifically argued in his doctoral thesis that the replacement of Tito, after he was “wounded” in Neretva military action, was actually replaced…. Find some info on this, it seems that replaced Tito was in service to Churchill’s Yalta, a Polish Nobel …. Just remember Tito as a worker in shipyards, and Tito as piano player in a white suite with a cigar that no one can really understand when he addresses the nation. Interesting. I don’t argue any point, since I am not a historian, but I heard the convincing arguments. Urge you to research, if history matters to you.

  9. kenan permalink

    Who cares who he was! He was a great man and great communist. He was a true leader! Zivio drug tito! Urahh!

  10. Zivio drug Tito??

    While Tito was certainly not as bad as Stalin, any leader who was anti-democratic is hardly a great leader. Tito’s Yugoslavia could have dealt with WW2 atrocities in a rehabiltive way, instead of cover up and obstruction. And there was no reason Yugoslavia could not have been both socialist and democratic.

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