Tito’s Former House’s Site Turned into Retiree Gym

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They used to come here under cover of night. In the house in what is today the Kerestinec Victims Street, the young couple lived in hiding for two years under false names. She was Marija Šarić and he was engineer Slavko Babić. In that short period of time, a child was also conceived. But, after the arrival of the Ustasha in Zagreb in May 1941, he went to Belgrade and left his pregnant partner behind. This is a story still often told by the old inhabitants on the Gajnice neighbourhood in western Zagreb. The main protagonists are actually Josip Broz Tito, the future president of Yugoslavia, and his third wife, Herta Haas. Hertha left the house to her son Mišo, whom she had with Tito, reports Večernji List on February 7, 2019.

Mayor Milan Bandić has decided that the very same house will now be the site of local self-government premises. That will be the result of an initiative launched ten years ago. At that time, according to Dejan Kljajić, the president of the City Neighbourhood of Podsused-Vrapče, the City of Zagreb allowed them to use the so-called Tito’s House. In November 2016, the neighbourhood decided to open on its location the premises of the Gajnice Local Committee.

“Over the years, we have allocated 3.4 million kuna from the funds for small communal actions, and now the premises will be used by various associations, organisations, and we will also organise free fitness training for citizens of all ages, from children to retirees,” says Kljajić.

But the demolition of Tito’s house did not pass unnoticed. When the old house was almost completely demolished, members of the Anti-Fascist Association of Susedgrad complained, demanding that a memorial plaque with historical information should be placed on the new building. They sent an official request to the city neighbourhood, but the councillors unsurprisingly say they do not intend to set up the plaque. “The only plaque on the house will be the one with the address number and the name of the local committee,” says Kljajić.

The house was demolished after the neighbours had been complaining for years that nobody was taking care of it, so snakes appeared among the grass and the weed. The Susedgrad scouts’ organisation used the premises for a while, and the building and its surroundings were kept in good order during their period. A war veteran from Petrinja lived in the house for a while, but after he left, the maintenance problems began.

Mišo Broz gave up the house in 1979, provided that a memorial museum was built there about his father and the antifascist movement. After the project was not realised, he sued the City of Zagreb and sought to have the house returned to his possession, but the court rejected his request.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Petra Balija).

More news about Tito can be found in the Politics section.


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