After a lifetime of traveling, Josip Broz Tito today returned for the last time to this capital where he spent the greater part of his political career. In contrast to earlier tumultuous welcomes, this one took place in almost total silence as the coffin containing his remains was escorted to the parliament building through streets lined by tens of thousands of solemn Yugoslavs.
As Marshal Tito made his last journey in the luxurious presidential Blue Train from the northwestern city of Ljubljana, his successors pledged to pursue his policies of independence abroad and unity among the different south Slav nations at home.
The journey began with an emotional farewell in light drizzle from the citizens of Ljubljana, the Slovene capital where Tito, 87, spent the last four months in a hospital. It ended in a moving scene of reconciliation in the ornate parlimentary chamber in Belgrade when his enstranged wife Jovanka, who has not been seen in public for nearly three years, placed a special wreath on his coffin.
Jovanka's presence took television viewers by surprise since she has been treated virtually as a nonperson since quarreling with Tito in 1977. Despite the fact that she accompanied the president everywhere during 25 years of married life, pictures of her have been deleted from filmed obituaries devoted to his career. Visibly struggling with her emotions, Jovanka -- who was described by the television cmmentator as "the president's wife," thus ending rumors of their divorce -- stood by the side of Tito's two sons by earlier marriages, Misa and Zarko. But the sons placed their own wreath in the name of "the family" and they were greeted more warmly by Yugoslav leaders.
After the wreath-laying ceremony, tens of thousands of ordinary Yugoslavs began to file past the heavy wooden coffin embossed with a five-pointed red star, the symbol of the World War II partisan movement led by Tito. Many had tears in their eyes as they gazed at the president's portrait and rows of Yugoslav and foreign decorations.
The body will lie in state until its burial Thursday in the presence of many foreign heads of state, including European royalty and leaders of the nonaligned movement that Tito helped to found. It was in the same building that Tito hosted the first summit of nonaligned countries in 1961.
Despite the fact that most Yugoslavs had been prepared for the president's death, the moment came as a psychological shock. Nowhere was this better illustrated than in the seaport of Split, where two teams of soccer stars stood weeping with the referee and linesmen when the death was announced over loudspeakers yesterday.
After a stunned silence, the 500,000-strong crowd began singing a hymn-like chant composed in Tito's honor: "Comrade Tito, we swear never to depart from your course."
Similar scenes took place today as the Blue Train, accompanied by representatives of the collective leadership designated by Tito to succeed him, made the eight-hour, 300-mile journey from Ljubljana to Belgrade.
In the Croatian capital, Zegreb, where Tito spent much of his youth as an illegal communist organizer, over 100,000 people turned out for a brief ceremony outside the railway station.
The mayor, Dragutin Plasca, broke down in tears at one point but struck a defiant note when he said Yugoslavia would reply "to a fist with a fist" if anybody tried to threaten Tito's achievements.
Many Yugoslavs have reacted president Tito's death as thouth he were a member of their own family. They have turned up for work with black armbands on their lapels and flown the Yugoslav flag at half-staff from their own balconies.
Emotion was particularly intense in the hilly Zagorje region on the borders of Croatia and Slovenia where Tito was born. As the Blue Train passed through, people lined the tracks four-deep in pouring rain.
In accordance with his wish, president Tito will be buried in the grounds of his private Belgrade residence on a hill overlooking the city. He chose a favorite spot from where it is possible to see both old and modern Belgrade stretching out toward the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers.
News agencies reported that the following world leaders will attend the funeral:
Vice President Mondale, Chinese Premier Hua Guofeng, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Pakistani President Mohammad Zia ul-Haq, Japanese Prime Minister Masayoshi Ohira, French Prime Minister Raymond Barre and Foreign Minister Jean Francois-Poncet, West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu, Portuguese President Antonio Ramalho Eanes and Finnish President Urho Kekkonen. Soviet President Leonid Brezhney and Foreign Minister Andre Gromyko, Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu, Portuguese President Antonio Eanes and Finnish President Urho Kekkonien.
Others include Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda, Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere, President Luis Cabral of Guinea-Bissau, President Ahmed Sekou Toure of Guinea and President Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo.
Among royalty attending will be King Baudouin of Belgium, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, King Olaf of Norway, and Prince Philip, husband of Britain's Queen Elizabeth. Governor General Ed Schreyer, official representative of Queen Elizabeth in Canada, will also attend.
Iranian Foreign Minister Sadegh Ghotbzadeh said he "probably" would lead his country's delegation, Iranian radio reported.