The creator of modern Yugoslavia and the last survivor of the charismatic wartime generation of world leaders was today buried under a marble slab bearing the simple inscription: "Josip Broz Tito 1892-1980."
In a final emotional farewell to the man who ruled Yugoslavia for over 35 years, a cacophony of noise erupted all over the country when Tito's coffin was lowered to its final resting place in the rose garden of his private Belgrade residence. Car, bus, and ship horns blared, a 48-gun salute was fired, and factory sirens wailed across the nation. Many Yugoslavs broke down and wept.
This noisy send-off, witnessed by one of the biggest gatherings of world leaders in recent years, contrasted with the silence that fell over the capital as the funeral procession got under way. All that could be heard in this normally noisy, bustling city of 1.5 million people were the chimes of clocks striking midday and the chirping of birds in the spring sunshine.
Among more than 200 foreign dignitaries who took part in the funeral were Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev, Chinese Communist Party Chairman Hua Guofeng and numerous leaders of the nonaligned movement that Tito helped to found. The United States was represented by Vice President Mondale at the head of a 23-man delegation that included Mrs. Lillian Carter.
In a farewell eulogy, the new chairman of the Yugoslav Communist Party, Stevan Doronjski, paid particular attention to Tito's defiance of the late Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in 1948, creating the first split in what until then had been a monolithic world movement. He described the break with Stalin as "one of the turning points in the history of our movement."
He went on: "Today our destiny is in our own hands. It has become part of our consciousness, our hearts and our minds. An independent socialist community of fraternal peoples, a country active in the struggle for peace -- this will continue to be Tito's and our Yugoslavia."
In a cremony that managed to combine simplicity with grandeur, the funeral procession was headed by old partisans who fought with Tito during World War II when he led an uprising against German and Italian occupation.
The three-mile funeral route was lined six deep on either side as well over half a million people turned out to witness what for Yugoslavia is the end of an era.
Following the gun carriage were members of Tito's family including his widow Jovanka, his third wife with whom he lived for 25 years until a bitter, but unexplained, quarrel in 1977. At times weeping uncontrollably, she was flanked by Tito's two sons by earlier marriages, Zarko and Misa, who had remained close by his side during the four-month death watch.
Tito himself chose his burial place, a favorite spot in the hilly Belgrade suburb of Dedinje from where it is possible to see the old and modern cities stretching away to the conflux of the Danube and Sava rivers. He also decided that his flamboyant life, which included taking part in the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution and surviving the Stalin purges, should be sealed by a simple marble slab.
President Brezhnev, who appeared to cope very well with the physical strain of the ceremonial, was shown on television with tears coming to his eyes as the "Internationale" struck up while Tito's coffin was being laid in the ground.
Many Yugoslavs expressed distress at the conduct of the large American delegation at the wreath-laying ceremony in the parliament building. One former Yugoslav ambassador complained of what he considered the poor taste of some members of the delegation, including Mrs. Carter, in failing to wear appropriate mourning dress when paying their last respects to Tito.
At his meeting with President Lazar Kolisevski, Brezhnev said the Soviet Union had shown itself a true and reliable friend of Yugoslavia over many years of cooperation. He ignored considerable strains between the two countries, both in the past and more recently over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan which Belgrade has vehemently opposed.