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Marshal Josip Broz Tito

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Marshal Josip Broz Tito, the founding father of modern Yugoslavia, died aged 87 on 4 May 1980.

Tito had led anti-Nazi partisans during the Second World War and helped liberate the region from the fascist control of the Axis powers. A Croat himself, he had united the different peoples of six republics to establish a Communist state with Soviet help in 1945.

In 1948, however, Tito had separated Yugoslavia from the Soviet Union’s Eastern Bloc of Communist nations, and in the 1950s had become a leader of the group in the United Nations that was not aligned with either of the Cold War foes: the United States and the USSR.

With the death of Marshal Tito, old regional hostilities resurfaced, leading to the break-up of Yugoslavia a decade later as the republics of Slovenia, Macedonia, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina declared independence and ethnic and religious groups began to fight each other for territory.