Pera Palace Hotel was built at the heart of Istanbul, Beyoğlu to host the valuable guests of the famous train of the time, Orient Express. One of its esteemed guests was the President of Yugoslavia Josip Broz Tito. Tito, who first came to Turkey in 1936 with a fake passport, he came to Istanbul in a Russian ship and had been staying at the Pera Palace Hotel.
Josip Broz Tito, the great statesman and socialist leader, was born in 1892 in Croatia as the seventh child of a low-income family of 15 children. At a young age, he started working in factories in various European countries. Later, Tito began his trade unionism and political activities. During the First World War, he served in the Austro-Hungarian army, was arrested for political reasons, despite showing heroism in the war. He was captured by the Russians, served in the civil war for three years and eventually came to his country to form the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. Tito was a real socialist and was arrested in 1928 and sentenced to six years in prison. He was released from prison in 1934. Sources say that he came to Istanbul secretly and stayed for a while.
İlhami Emin, who was Tito’s sworn interpreter for more than ten years, has been telling his escape story to Turkey in the following sentences:
“Tito has visited Turkey more than twice. His first official visit was in the 1950s. His first visit to Turkey was in 1936, with a fake passport, in a Russian ship. He stayed at the Pera Palace Hotel then moved to Park Hotel because the Park Hotel’s price was more reasonable. Tito, who had been waiting for a new passport from Zagreb for two months, toured and visited almost every part of Istanbul. He liked shish kebab. A Bosniak guided him during his Istanbul stay. When the new passport came from Zagreb, he landed in the Croatian capital and laughed out loud as he read the newspapers’ A Russian spy has been spotted in a ship, in Gibraltar, but he ran away.’ Because the ship which was wanted was his ship, and the runaway ‘Russian’ spy was himself”
Tito, the socialist leader, historically appeared on the scene under the conditions of World War II. Germany began to bomb Yugoslavia on 6 April 1941. As a result, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia surrendered on 17 April and was disintegrated entirely on 8 July. Tito and the patriots united the people under the organisation named “Homeland Front” against the Nazi occupation. These forces, called Partisans, cleared the Yugoslav mountains from the Nazis. In the process, Tito fought side by side with his people and soldiers. So much so that Hitler had set 100,000 German Mark prizes for his capture! But Tito was invincible. After the war, he was elected as Prime Minister (1944–1963), and President (later President for Life) (1953–1980) of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY). From 1943 to his death in 1980, Tito held the rank of Marshal of Yugoslavia, serving as the supreme commander of the Yugoslav military, the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA). He reunited the different nations scattered by war under the name of ‘Yugoslavia’.
Josip Broz Tito, the President of Yugoslavia, has made his country start a period of great development. Thanks to him, Yugoslavia became the most advanced country in the Balkans in agriculture and industry. Similarly, he made his name known to the world in culture, art and sports. “Let everyone know that we will not be the toys of anybody’s policy,” he pursued a balanced and independent foreign policy.
Tito, who was still longing as a socialist leader, died in 1980 at the age of 88. As a result of imperialist provocation, his country went into disintegration with a bloody civil war in 1992.