Jovanka Broz – the widow of Josip Broz Tito, the Communist leader of what was once Yugoslavia – has died in Belgrade of a heart attack, aged 88.
Jovanka Broz joined the partisans led by Josip Broz Tito who fought the Nazi occupation in World War Two.
She became first Tito’s personal secretary, then his third wife in 1952.
When Josip Broz Tito died in 1980, she was under house arrest for a time. She lived her last three decades in isolation
Jovanka Broz was left stateless by the collapse of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
“With Broz’s death, we are left without one of the last most reliable witnesses of our former country’s history,” Serbian PM Ivica Dacic said in a message of condolence.
Jovanka Budisavljevic, an ethnic Serb, was born into a farming family in what is now Croatia on December 7, 1924.
She joined the partisans when she was just 17, remaining with them until the end of the war in 1945.
After her marriage to Yugoslavia’s authoritarian president Josip Broz – known as Tito – she spent nearly three decades as first lady.
But after he died, Jovanka Broz was accused of plotting a coup.
She lived in seclusion in the Belgrade suburb of Dedinje and rarely gave interviews.
However, in 2009 Jovanka Broz spoke to the Politika daily about the period after her husband’s death.
“They chased me out … in my nightgown, without anything, not allowing me even to take a photo of the two of us, or a letter, a book,” she said.
“I was in isolation and treated like a criminal… I could not leave the house without armed guards.”
Jovanka Broz had been admitted to hospital in August in a serious condition, suffering from heart problems. Her last wish was to be buried in the House of Flowers, in Belgrade, next to her husband.
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