Tito's widow, Jovanka Broz, dies in Belgrade, aged 88

  • 20 October 2013
  • From the section Europe

The widow of the Communist leader of what was once Yugoslavia has died in Belgrade of a heart attack, aged 88.

Jovanka Broz joined the partisans led by Josip Broz Tito who fought the Nazi occupation in World War Two.

She became first Tito's personal secretary, then his third wife in 1952. When Tito died in 1980, she was under house arrest for a time. She lived her last three decades in isolation.

She was left stateless by the collapse of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

"With Broz's death, we are left without one of the last most reliable witnesses of our former country's history,'' Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic said in a message of condolence.

Jovanka Broz (R) with Marshal Tito (L), Montenegro, 1969
Jovanka Broz, seen here with her husband Marshal Tito in 1969

Jovanka Budisavljevic, an ethnic Serb, was born into a farming family in what is now Croatia on 7 December 1924.

She joined the partisans when she was just 17, remaining with them until the end of the war in 1945.

After her marriage to Yugoslavia's authoritarian President Josip Broz - known as Tito - she spent nearly three decades as first lady.

But after he died she was accused of plotting a coup.

She lived in seclusion in the Belgrade suburb of Dedinje and rarely gave interviews.

However, in 2009 she spoke to the Politika daily about the period after her husband's death.

"They chased me out ... in my nightgown, without anything, not allowing me even to take a photo of the two of us, or a letter, a book," she said.

"I was in isolation and treated like a criminal... I could not leave the house without armed guards."

Mrs Broz had been admitted to hospital in August in a serious condition, suffering from heart problems.

Her last wish was to be buried in the House of Flowers in Belgrade, next to Tito.

Jovanka Broz lays flowers on Tito's tomb, Belgrade (10 May 1995)
Jovanka Broz - seen here laying flowers on her husband's tomb - said she wanted to be buried alongside him
Jovanka Broz at a Communist Party congress in Zagreb (then part of Yugoslavia), 1952
In 1952, she became Tito's third wife, having served before as his secretary
Jovanka Broz with her husband Josip Broz Tito, in 1977
She travelled the world with her husband, but after his death, she lived in seclusion in the Belgrade suburb of Dedinje
Jovanka Broz looking at the tomb of her husband (May 2001)
With her death, "one of the last most reliable witnesses of our former country's history" had been lost, said Serbia's president

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