XIII
Tito Emerges

In 1937, during the Great Purge, Milan Gorkić, leader of the Yugoslav Party, was shot. His politburo was exterminated. The party itself was dissolved. And the only surviving member of the politburo was ordered to rebuild the party from the foundations. He got a free hand in selecting the membership.

What obscure considerations prompted Yeshov, the half-crazed boss of the NKVD, to commit that particular piece of slaughter will perhaps never be known. Gorkić's own record was bad, personally and politically, but why dissolve the party itself? The only spark in this gloomy darkness is the rôle played in the tragedy by Gorkić's successor, Josip Broz, later known as Tito. It was he who, a year earlier, had been in charge of the wholesale massacre of Yugoslav party members living in Russia. He had thus helped to kill all his superiors, since the greater part of the Yugoslav leadership found itself in Moscow at the time. His own Russian-born wife was among the victims.

The man who in this way moved into position to play a not insignificant r7le in history, was the very embodiment, the ideal type, of the new generation of communist leaders emerging from the Spanish civil war and from the Great Purge. He was not burdened by any habit of independent thought; of Marxist doctrine, of the history of the communist movement, he certainly did not know more than what was thought fit to be taught, as a dead dogma, to young acolytes. More than that, his beginnings had been characterized by a marked lack of interest in politics, and by an equally marked taste for vigorous physical action. A 'dynamic' type, good to use in any enterprise, without asking unnecessary questions. This is how, during World War II, Lazar Fundo, an Albanian Trotskyite, described him to Julian Amery, British liaison officer to the Albanian monarchists:

'Tito was considered in Moscow as one of their bravest and most

-337-

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