Serbia state funeral for widow of Yugoslav leader Tito

  • 26 October 2013
  • From the section Europe

The widow of former Yugoslav leader Marshal Tito has been honoured in a state funeral in the Serbian capital.

Jovanka Broz, who died of heart failure at the age of 88 last weekend, was buried next to her husband in the elaborate House of Flowers mausoleum.

She received full military honours in line with her status as a decorated member of the anti-Nazi partisans who fought in World War II, officials said.

Mrs Broz lived as a recluse in Belgrade after the death of her husband in 1980.

She was accused of plotting a coup, was placed under house arrest for a time, and had her identity papers taken away.

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

A file photo taken in November 1952 shows the wife of Marshal Tito of Yugoslavia, Jovanka Broz
Jovanka Broz spent three decades as Yugoslavia's First Lady
Serbian police hold back Tito supporters following the funeral of his widow Jovanka Broz, in Belgrade, Oct. 26
Hundreds gathered in Belgrade for the funeral
A visitor shows a picture of the former Yugoslav communist leader Josip Broz Tito during the funeral of Jovanka Broz, widow of Tito, in Belgrade, Oct. 26
Some of the mourners brought memorabilia including pictures of Marshal Tito in his pomp.
An admirer of the late Yugoslav Communist president Josip Broz Tito poses for a photograph in Belgrade on October 26, 2013
Tito remains a popular figure among many of the older generation.
Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic attends the funeral of Jovanka Broz, widow of the former Yugoslav communist leader Josip Broz Tito, in Belgrade, Oct. 26
Prime Minister Ivica Dacic led the tributes, calling her the "last icon" of Yugoslavia
A World War II veteran salutes in Belgrade October 26,
Between 1980 and 2000 Mrs Broz was denied basic rights and kept under virtual house arrest, prompting Mr Dacic to say: "It is time to admit we committed a sin."
A man lays flowers on the grave of Jovanka Broz in Belgrade on October 26,
Mrs Broz was buried metres from her husband in the House of Flowers mausoleum, which doubles as a history museum.

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."

Serbia's Prime Minister Ivica Dacic led the tributes at the funeral ceremony, saying: "Today marks the departure of the last icon of the former Yugoslavia."

He said it was time to admit that the treatment she received after the death of her husband was a "sin".

The BBC's Guy De Launey in Belgrade says hundreds of people went to the ceremony at the residence Mrs Broz once shared with her husband.

Mourners included veterans of the same partisan unit in which she served during World War II.

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 Marshal Tito.

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 leader Josip Broz, known as Tito, she spent nearly three decades as first lady.

Tito established a communist monopoly on power after the war, and there were brutal reprisals against former Nazi collaborators or sympathisers. Catholic clergy were among the victims.

Tito forged a new federal, multi-ethnic state and later fell out with Soviet leader Josef Stalin. The national rivalries in Yugoslavia, suppressed by Tito, came back with a vengeance when the country plunged into war in the 1990s.

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