Robert Zagajski stands in a barren field on the outskirts of Munich and stares at the spot where his father's lifeless and beaten body was discovered in 1983. He was just 17 at the time of his father's murder, but the terror of that day still lingers. "This place symbolizes suffering for me," he confesses. As we witness in these opening moments from Tito's Murder Squads, the thrilling new documentary from directors Phillip Grull and Frank Hofmann, Robert's father Djuro was one of 30 victims in what is believed to be the longest series of unsolved murders in German history.
Much like the majority of the slain, Djuro was a Croat exile who stood in strong opposition to the socialist Yugoslavian regime, and sought sanctuary on German soil. There were many thousands of Yugoslavians just like Djuro, who were all anxious to take advantage of Germany's bustling economic promise, and flee the constrictions of their birth place beginning in the late 1960's. But for some, there was no escape, and their homeland followed them in the form of ruthless assassins sanctioned by the communist party and their leader Josip Broz Tito.
Tito's Murder Squads untangles this twisted tale with all the tension and intrigue of an international spy novel. The film tracks a complex investigation that has mystified and challenged German authorities for more than three decades. Their efforts are buoyed by the families of the victims, who struggle to find closure in their quest for justice.
That justice is hard fought, as investigators attempt to shed light on a large group of Yugoslavian spies who have long operated in shadow within Germany's borders. Uncovering reams of secret documents and featuring a series of chilling interviews with many of the key players on both sides of the story, the filmmakers remain vigilant in their pursuit to hold accountable both the members of the Yugoslavian secret service who signed the death warrants and the assassins who carried out these dirty deeds. It's a journey that continues to this day. But for people like Robert Zagajski, discovering the truth behind what was taken from him so long ago is well worth the wait.