When I lived in communist Croatia, working as a spy, I was privileged to meet Marshal Broz Tito, who was then the president of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. He was too busy with formalities—becoming ill, facilitating his 32 palace residences and commanding the Yugoslav People’s Army—for extended interactions with me. My attempts to visit him were conveniently dismissed.
Through one of my acquaintances in the city of Ljubljana I’d met one of Tito’s illegitimate sons, Nikola Broz. Throughout Tito’s life administrating communism, he was busy marrying then divorcing and having affairs, and his illegitimate children were mostly unaccounted for…Nikola and one other person were identified as his. This illegitimate son had an illegitimate half-sister, Lulia Zois.
At the time of my second assignment, one month after the death of Marshal Tito in May 1980, Nikola and Lulia were feuding over Tito’s winery situated on two-hundred fertile acres of land near Dubrovnik. The main conflict wasn’t just about the property; the monastery winery was the actual artifact they both wanted to possess. Once a church, the Bogorodicin Manastir—monastery of the Mother of God—was a type of fabulous fascist hacienda. Through decades of warfare as well as being a hiding place for priceless Croatian religious artifacts and Yugoslavian artwork, the monastery became the Broz family cache.
But this blog isn’t about the unaccounted for treasure Tito had accumulated. It’s about the angst of the youth, the newest generation of Croatians who suffered under an oppressive regime. I told this story to Nikola and Lulia and they were mostly amused and then, suddenly, Western ideals swirled through their minds that possibly American culture was more than just brainwashed ideals we suffered from. Croatian youth strove for independence and achieved it. Hopefully fewer Americans will examine their indifference toward freedom and cherish it as much as the Croatian youth strove for theirs.
You can read about my heralding Croatian experiences in my new novel DUBROVNIK. A sequel to DUBROVNIK, VITRUVIAN MAN is in its final copy edit. Good reading and a good respectful life keeps a person happy.