Dan Mladosti / Youth Day

As promised, a special post on May 25th, the fake birthday of The Old Man


May 25th held a special place in Yugoslav mythology. It was a mass celebration of Tito’s birthday, which culminated with a Relay of youth being handed over to Tito (or the current president of the Presidency after Tito’s death). It started more than a month earlier, usually on top of Mt. Triglav, Slovenia’s and Yugoslavia’s highest peak. The relay would then travel all around Yugoslavia, clocking in thousands of kilometres, before making it to Belgrade on May 25th.

The final leg was also known as “slet” (a come-together, if you will), which aimed to show how the Yugoslav youth adored Tito. This included but was not limited to mass-excercise (now you know where Kim Jong Ill got his idea :))

“Slet” in Belgrade, probably in mid 70s

At first the event was named Tito’s relay, but the Old Man asked for it to be renamed the Youth relay. It is still a matter of some debate whether he really meant it, or was advised to do it (for he was quite a vane person) as not breed too much of a personality cult. If the latter is the case, it was of course too little, too late 🙂


Tito enjoyed the company of famous people and he was also a womanizer. It appears that his last wife (out of suspected five) Jovanka Broz was highly jealous of her husband even as he grew old (she was 34 years his junior), and given the picture below, she was quite possibly correct 😉

Check out the guy’s right hand…. He’s nursing a nurse 😉

According to an anecdote, the Old Man was in the hospital, just after they amputated his leg due to medical complications, when a nurse (I think that it was the same one as in the picture) told him that he would have to change his pajamas. Apparently Tito replied by saying: “Young lady, I hope I won’t have any obligations to you after this!”… And he was eighty-eight years old! :mrgreen:


On that day in 1944 the raid on Drvar took place… Again, the event is steeped in mythology, but the official line is that the Germans got the date wrong and thought that Tito was celebrating his birthday, surrounded by a token Partisan force which would be easy to defeat.

The truth is that there was only a small force present at the village of Drvar, but Tito was not celebrating and he escaped, together with most of his forces. Those which remained, fought bravely to ensure a safe escape of Tito’s HQ.

The raid on Drvar is considered one of the greater miracles of Partisan forces, much like the evacuation of the British forces at Dunquerkue in 1940.


As Tito died and Yugoslavia was increasingly becoming a parody of itself, the concept of Relay of Youth was getting really old really fast. And again, it was (perhaps unintentionally) up to Slovenes to call spade a spade. in 1987 an art group Novi kolektivizem, made a poster for the event, based on an old Nazi poster. The message was of course clear, although the artists later claimed ignorance (which probably saved them a lot of grief)

stafeta_nk.jpg stafeta_nazi.jpg

The Yugoslav remake and the Nazi original

Naturally, all hell broke loose and the government came down really hard, probably because it approved the poster in the first place, thus proving the designers’ point. It was up to a guy from Serbia who recognized the original image an alterted his local Party cell.

The relay was canceled that year and never again ressurected in its original form.

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

14 thoughts on “Dan Mladosti / Youth Day”

  1. Pravzaprav je skupinska telovadba (slet) precej stara stvar in je niso pogruntal komunisti temveč češki sokoli že pred drugo sv. vojno. Idejo so potem povzeli tudi jugoslovanski sokoli. Nima pa to nobene veze s tem koliko je kdo “fit to fight” ampak je bila želja po tem, da bi se zvišala raven telesne kulture in športne vzgoje pri nas in drugod. O vsem tem smo se seveda učili tudi v šoli 😉

  2. Bo že držalo, saj nisem rekel, da so jo izumili jugoslovanski komunisti… Samo “doterali” so jo 😉

    Tisto o “fit to fight” pa je bila zgolj cinična pripomba 😀

  3. While some of your readers were concentrating on the Great One’s hands placement, I was glued to the eyeframes sported by Josip Broz and his body double to his right.
    CommieSpecs! I loved his glasses; they gave him a je connais ça expression while still being stylishly dictatorial.

    Who made them for him? Seriously, I’d love to know. Mr. Pengovsky, ye of the Fountain of All Things Old Yugoslvic, any clue?

  4. I don’t know… But I’ll ask around – that is if you’re talking about the large guy on the left side of the picture (Stane Dolanc). Some of this man’s relatives are friends of mine, so they should know 😀 But they really are cool, the specs… And thanks for the compliment! 😳

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