BELGRADE – On April 20 1955, Marijan John Markul entered the FBI’s Los Angeles office and told a shocking story. The man who then introduced himself as Marshal Josip Broz Tito was not actually him, but a Russian agent who assumed the identity of Tito after Josip Broz disappeared in Russia in 1937. This is stated in the FBI’s report from the beginning of May 1955, writes daily newspaper “Kurir”.
Secret FBI reports from the fifties were recently opened and released to the public.
Marijan Markul was born in Livno in 1909. He moved to the United States in 1936, and received citizenship in 1944 after he served in the US army for two years during the Second World War.
The report said it was not certain how much information he provided was accurate, but said that he claimed to be “a socialist and wanted to provide information that could be important for the security of the United States.”
Report on the meeting of FBI agents with Markul states that Markul visited Yugoslavia in 1953, and that he met with Tito on two occasions. The first meeting lasted about an hour, and on that occasion, he noted that Marshal Tito had five fingers on each hand.
Markul argued that real Tito lost the middle finger and index finger of the left hand. He added that Tito he met with in 1953 was well educated and an excellent piano player. On the other hand, he said that real Tito was uneducated, and as far as Markul knew, he did not know how to play the piano.
Among other things, Markul claimed that Josip Broz was about 180 centimeters tall, while “fake” Tito was only 160 cm tall. Markul also said that the man who in fifties posed as Tito spoke soft with a slight Russian accent. Real Tito, he said, spoke pronouncedly and sharply.
Markul claimed that real Tito was very sickly, had tuberculosis and disappeared in Russia in 1937. He also said that in late twenties he talked to real Tito in Yugoslavia, and met with him in Paris in 1935 or 1936, adding that he was firmly convinced that this man was real Josip Broz.
After meeting the Marshal in 1953, Marijan visited his married sister in Zagreb. They led a conversation about whether the man was real Tito, and agreed that he was not, according to Markul. The sister said that she and her husband had lived in the belief that Tito who lived at the address Uzicka 15 was a fraud. Her husband, a man named Boris Gorić had confirmed that he was not sure of the identity of Tito, and that this thing was rumored throughout Yugoslavia.
The report states that his sister then said that neither she nor her husband did not believe that at the forefront of Yugoslavia was real Josip Broz Tito. They first began to doubt that in 1937, when they heard his voice at radio and noticed a change of accent. Markul also claimed that his father Ivan knew real Tito, as they worked in the same city, and that he agreed that these were two different people.
Ivan Markul and Josip Broz worked in the same city, and Ivan was convinced that Marshal in Belgrade was not the same as comrade Tito – Secretary of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia.
Markul had the second meeting with Tito in 1953 in Zagreb. This time Marijan and his wife Ingrid were almost completely ignored by the Marshal. After the audience with the Marshal, Markul talked for hours with Aleksandar Rankovic, for whom he claimed was actually the most powerful man in Yugoslavia.
Rankovic and Markul allegedly were together in prison at the end of the twenties of the last century because of the syndicated operation and during that time became close friends. It is therefore Markul openly told Rankovic that he knew that Tito in the next room is fake.
Markul claimed that Rankovic was the main man in charge of security in Yugoslavia, and that in conversation with him he expressed his doubts to what Rankovic replied that he should not be burdened with these things and should enjoy his stay in Yugoslavia. This sidetracking only fomented Markul’s doubt, according to the document.
Markul told the FBI agents that, in his opinion, the Yugoslav authorities secretly cooperated with the Soviet Union and that in the coming period it would become clear to everyone. He also expressed his conviction that the Soviet authorities could, if they wished, easily get rid of Broz, and added that all of his statements could be confirmed by certain Zivko Topalovic from France.
Zivko Topalovic, according to Markul, knew real Tito, and the Yugoslav authorities sentenced him to 20 years in prison, which is why he fled to France. Topalovic believed that the person who presented himself as Tito was Russian General Nikolai Lebedev.
Markul concluded that the Yugoslav government only pretended that it was at odds with the Soviet Union in order to receive assistance from the United States, and that there was never a real rift between the two countries.
Markul accused the Yugoslav authorities to cooperate with the Soviets and said that within four or five months it would become more than obvious to everyone. He continued with accusations and said that the man who presented himself as Tito was actually a Russian agent and an obedient to the Soviet Union.
Markul himself said that he spent several years in Russia, and that he thought he saw many of the Russian agents in the streets of Yugoslavia. In 1930 he went to Russia, and he thought that society was well-ordered, but he was caught “because he failed to meet the labor quota”. He told American agents that he fled from Russia three years later across Siberia.
“Markul claims that Yugoslav authorities pretend that there are disagreements with the Soviet Union, in order to get help from the US, and that in fact there is no real rift between Yugoslavia and the Soviets,” reads the document.