Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The NSA and the Mystery of Tito and Eliza Doolittle

As everyone knows, the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.   Poor Eliza Doolittle had to repeat that phrase over and over again, under the tutelage of her cruel taskmaster, the domineering patriarch Henry Higgins in order to achieve the goals not just for herself but for her language teachers.  She wanted a chance to elevate herself from desperate poverty, but her masters wanted to put one over on British society, to fool English society into believing that this poverty-stricken seller of flowers, Eliza Doolittle, was in fact of the upper classes.   Technically speaking this was a conspiracy.

In a similar manner,  we have a story from the Cold War, a mystery if you will, about someone who did not learn to pronounce his H's properly and so was unmasked as an impostor.  Of course in his case, since he was the ruler of a Communist dictatorship, it didn't really matter.

This person was probably a plant of a Russian trained agent to lead the resistance of communist and other partisan forces in a war they expected with Nazi Germany.   The mysterious Russian, if he was Russian, whose real name we do not know, was secretly proven to not be who he said he was after WW II and during the cold war.  It was his failure to learn to pronounce his H's, figuratively speaking, that revealed him.

The organization that succeeded in revealing the truth (secretly) to our leaders was the newly formed and much maligned National Security Agency.   Yes, that poor, misunderstood guardian of freedom, the NSA.

Our story begins in the 1930s in what was the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, formed after WW I out of parts of the Austro Hungarian Empire and the Kingdom of Slovenia.  A former locksmith and metal worker, Josip Broz of Kumrovec, near Zagreb, took the underground cover name of Tito, and led the Communist faction of the partisans in resistance to the Germans who had occupied their country.

When the Germans were defeated, he was able to keep the Kingdom united and create a new country that included Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia and five other distinct provinces and ethinic groups.   He was able to forge his own path for his newly Communist nation, separate from the Soviet Union, and create his own version of Socialism.  (1) When he died, the country split apart violently along ethnic lines. Without him, it could not hold together.

The problem is, or the mystery, is that it was not clear, it still is not clear, who Marshal Tito was.  But whoever he was, it isn't who he said he was.

Marshal Tito was supposedly born Josip Broz in 1892 in Kumrovec to a Croat Father and a Slovene mother.  His first language was Serbo-Croat.    He fought in the Austro Hungarian army, was captured and imprisoned in Russia, fought in the Russian revolution, and returned to Yugoslavia where he was involved in various activities that also got him imprisoned.  After serving time, he went underground and joined the Yugoslav Communist party.   From there he rose in prominence in the Party and led the resistance to the Germans.

But mysteriously the people of Kumrovec did not recognize him.   And when Josip aka Tito spoke his native language, he made mistakes that no native would make.   Serbo-Croat was apparently not his native language.

One job of our intelligence community is to understand what is happening in the world and what is likely to happen. Who the leaders of important countries are, and what they are likely to do, is part of their job. Its a nearly impossible job to do, but certain things can be done. But one is certainly at a disadvantage if you do not even know who the leader of a country is.

What does any of this have to do with the NSA?

The NSA is considered one of the centers of excellence in linguistics in the world. They took a speech that Tito gave and analyzed it, asking the question of whether Tito was a native speaker of Serbo Croat. I do not know when the report was originally written, but it was recently released.  Their answer was: he was not a native speaker of Serbo Croat.  He was an impostor, just like Eliza Doolittle!  But an Eliza Doolittle who did not learn her lessons!  (2) 

So whoever Marshall Tito, one of the great revolutionaries of the 20th Century and a national hero of the former country of Yugoslavia, was he wasn't who he said he was. Most people who know about the issue speculate that Tito was a Russian who was put in place of Josip Broz sometime in the 1930s, well before WW II. But it is speculation.

For a good discussion of the Tito mystery, see this post.

Wikipedia claims this story isn't true.  Well, maybe.  As you would imagine, partisans of Tito would want to deny the story.  Finding out the truth here would be difficult, it might in fact, be impossible. (3)

I hope this little story will help to convince you of two things.  First, the importance of studying musical theatre for understanding the Cold War.  And second, to give you some idea of what the NSA does for a living.   They do not give a fuck  hoot about your pornography or your mistress, they have other fish to fry.

The original report is on the NSA web site at:


1. In Stalin's desk after he died was a letter from Tito. It said that they had caught another Soviet assassination squad trying to kill him (Tito) but that they had missed, and that if Stalin tried that again Tito would send his own squad after Stalin and they would not miss.

2. My Fair Lady, of course.

3. One could imagine exhuming the body of Tito, extracting DNA, and comparing that DNA with the DNA of other living members of his family, if any exist, or with people from that part of the world.  One might then have evidence that he was related to those people or not.   This is not something that I, or anyone I know, is going to cause to happen.

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