Josip Broz (Tito) was born in in Croatia in 1892. He came from a poor family and worked as a mechanic before being conscripted into the Austro-Hungarian Army in 1914. While fighting In the First World War he was captured by the Russian Army. Broz became converted to communism and took part in the Russian Revolution in 1917.
Broz returned to the new Yugoslavia and became active in politics. The royalist government outlawed the communists and in 1928 Broz was arrested and given a five year prison sentence. On his release he went to live in the Soviet Union and in 1934 began working for the Comintern. Soon afterwards he obtained the nickname Tito.
On the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War the Comintern established the Dimitrov Battalion. Named after Georgi Dimitrov the battalion comprised of Greeks and people from the Balkans. Tito eventually became one of the battalion's senior commanders.
The Yugoslavian government headed by Prince-Regent Paul allied itself with the fascist dictatorships of Germany and Italy. However, on 27th March 1941, a military coup established a government more sympathetic to the Allies. Ten days later the Luftwaffe bombed Yugoslavia and virtually destroyed Belgrade. The German Army invaded and the government was forced into exile.
Tito returned to Yugoslavia and helped establish the partisan resistance fighters. Initially the Allies provided military aid to the Chetniks led by Drazha Mihailovic. Information reached Winston Churchill that the Chetniks had began to collaborate with the Germans and Italians and at Teheran the decision was taken to switch this aid to Tito and the partisans.
In May 1944 a new government of Yugoslavia was established under Ivan Subasic. Tito was made War Minister in the new government. Tito and his partisans continued their fight against the German Army and in October 1944 helped to liberate Belgrade.
In March 1945 Tito became premier of Yugoslavia. Over the next few years he created a federation of socialist republics (Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia).
Tito had several disagreements with Joseph Stalin and in 1948 he took Yugoslavia out of the Comintern and pursued a policy of "positive neutralism". Influenced by the ideas of his vice-president, Milovan Djilas, Tito attempted to create a unique form of socialism that included profit sharing workers' councils that managed industrial enterprises.
Although created President for life in 1974, Tito established a unique system of collective, rotating leadership within the country. Josip Brozovich died on 4th May 1980.