Ljubljana To Get “Tito Street”

I was about to write some more on Igor Bavčar and his fall from grace, but it will have to wait a couple of days, as good old World War II themes are again on the agenda. This time it’s about whether a street in Ljubljana should be named after Josip Broz Tito.

Josip Broz – Tito

In socialist Yugoslavia every republic and region had a town or a city named after Tito. There were Titograd (Montenegro), Titovo Velenje (Slovenia), Titova Korenica (Croatia), Titov Drvar (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Titovo Užice (Serbia), Titov Veles (Macedonia), Titova Mitrovica (Kosovo) and Titov Vrbas (Vojvodina). On top of that there were countless streets, roads, squares, circles, boulevards and avenues, but – curiously enough – no airports However, with ascent of democracy most of these topographical items (my use of euphemisms impresses even myself) were renamed in favour of other heroes or geographical features. Thus, in Ljubljana Titova cesta (Tito Street) was split in two and renamed Slovenska cesta and Dunajska cesta – Slovenian Street and Vienna Street respectively. But some survived. While Velenje dropped its adjective. it did retain its very own Tito Street. As did Koper and some other Slovene towns and cities.

However, in the wake of discovery of Huda Jama massacre, Janez Janša’s SDS (echoed by the entire political right wing) called for removal of any and all topographical references to Tito, as well as removal of his statues – although there is only one left on public display (you guessed it: in Velenje).

The call received a cool-to-frigid response, despite the fact that SDS ventured to portray Josip Broz – TIto as a mass murderer and a dictator. Or maybe that was the very reason for a muted response. Because while Tito was definitely responsible for post-war massacres (he was at the top of the military and political command structure) and he definitely was an authoritarian (oscillating between a harsh dictator and a benevolent non-elected leader, depending on circumstances), he also won the war, was instrumental in keeping at least part of Primorska in Slovenia and – last but not least – decentralised Yugoslavia to the point of making republics de-facto independent. Not to mention the usual socialist features of high employment and good social and health care.

In short, in Slovenia Tito is remembered for things both excellent and terrible.

However, in response to SDS’ call for complete removal of reminders of Tito from public spaces, Ljubljana mayor Zoran Janković started stirring the pot as he proposed that a new street, next to the future Stožice football stadium is to bear the name of Josip Broz Tito. Naturally, the right wing went apeshit, with Mlada Slovenija (youth organisation of NSi, Janša’s former coalition partner) going as far as saying that “Ljubljana cannot have a street named after Tito” and started collecting signatures against it all over Slovenia (mostly via internet).

Personally, I think the youth at NSi should go stick their heads in the bucket, because I will not have people from other parts of Slovenia telling me how streets in my city will be named. On the other hand, mayor Janković is needlessly stirring up shit, because there really is no need (neither political nor moral) to have a street named after Tito again – if another street had to be stripped of his name in the first place. As for SDS – their call is nothing short of rewriting history, a past time extremely popular with that particular party. Which shouldn’t come as a surprise, really. However – I have a distinct felling that there is a hidden agenda. Namely. if a street is stripped of it’s name, it will have to be renamed. No points for guessing after whom…

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

14 thoughts on “Ljubljana To Get “Tito Street””

  1. Well we could also say that Mayor Jankovic is rectifying an injustice that was done to Tito by removing his name from a street. I know that Maribor, the stronghold of the SNS, has a pretty large and central Titova cesta, so why not the capital?

    Speaking of street name debates, last week in Serbia there was a small uproar over the renaming of a boulevard in Nis to carry the name of the legendary Roma singer (and native of Nis) Saban Bajramovic. Concerned citizens lodged a formal protest to the city authorities using the borderline incredible excuse that they liked the old name better (and a very “historic” and significant name it was – Southern Boulevard), that they could not afford to change personal identification etc, and finally, just to emphasizee their open-mindedness, they suggested that Saban should get a street named after him in his own neighbourhood, ie in the Roma slum.

    Fortunately, the city authorities resisted, and Saban got his own street. Perhaps the least we can do for Tito is give him one too. 🙂

  2. We seem to be escaping attention of Spiegel as post-war-killings-place(we must be lucky) while Croatia gets the full attention. They don’t claim Tito was a major murderer – they only state the Wehrmacht got what they deserved.

    I don’t like the idea of Tito Streets at all.

  3. I don’t think street names should be honors reserved for the most angelic of statesmen, I think names can also be historical document. I think the name Tito still brings smiles to many a Slovenian face, from the few I’ve surveyed and frankly the dude wasn’t all bad. Come ahhhhhnnnn. Germany does this “sweeping the past under the multiculti rug” stuff and it brings tons of problems. Frankly, I love the old socialist statues and images I occasionally see in the country, it gives the country some flavor and frankly that stuff has now made the tourist-friendly shift from Red Scare(!!!!) to High Kitsch. I say keep it and let a hundred Titov trgs grow!

  4. Yeah, well, I don’t think we lack monuments dedicated to our history 🙂 tourists could admire…

    You know, we all grew up with Tito (even those born after his death, I think), but so many of us had to grow up only with Tito-worship, loads of it, and it took quite some time and energy. If we want it or not, we all have a Tito Street – in us. All those images, words, big emotions…

    I was quite relieved when they did away with Tito streets. I wanted reality. As in: no more worship for people who were only people plus who probably killed so many other humans.

    It turned out this year Germans still have many schools named after SS members…

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