the republics of Yugoslavia
(1944-1992), Marshall Tito cultivated socialist
fraternity and a unity that took precedence over ethnic differences.
Tito was a considered a benevolent Father
about whom rousing songs were composed and whose portrait still occupies
a prominent place some homes and public buildings. Children honored
him en masse every year on his birthday, May 25. A child was proud
to make a small speech, hand him flowers, or present the ceremonial
stafeta at the end of a relay race. This semblance of unity was maintained
by sending dissidents to
work camps or demoting them from positions of power.
death from cancer in May 1980 was a profound shock and provoked mourning
throughout Yugoslavia. Many feared that without his presence unity
could not be maintained. His coffin was placed on a train, which wound
through the country, headed for an official state funeral in Belgrade.
Huge crowds lined the tracks, carrying placards and singing songs
that vowed to follow his path. Tito's burial was accompanied by a
gun salute and the wailing of air-raid sirens.
brotherhood and unity dissolved
quickly following Tito's death, as his "sons"
vied for the position of the Father.
An escalation of gruesome and violent acts by citizens against one
another led to demands for the autonomy of republics and to a fracturing
along ethnic lines. Bosnia became
the central site of a multicultural dissolution, engineered by Serbian
leader Slobodan Milosevic. One of the most poignant symbols of this
painful disintegration was the Croatian army's bombing of Bosnia's
Mostar bridge, which brutally separated the city's Muslim and Croat
by John Borneman, Linda Fisher & Elvir Gamdzic, May 1998