Filipović was born on 27 January 1916 in Opuzen, in the Kingdom of Dalmatia, (in modern-day Dubrovnik-Neretva County, Croatia), in the last days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Before the outbreak of the Second World War he lived in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kragujevac, Serbia, then both part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. He joined the workers' movement in 1937, but he was arrested in 1939 and sentenced to a year in prison. He later joined the Communist Party of Yugoslavia in 1940.
Filipović was commander of the Partisans' Tamnavsko-Kolubarski unit in Valjevo (modern-day Serbia) by 1941. He was captured on 24 February 1942 by Axis forces and subsequently hanged in Valjevo on 27 May 1942, aged 26. As the rope was put around his neck, Filipović defiantly thrust his hands out and shouted "Smrt fašizmu, sloboda narodu!" which translates as "Death to fascism, freedom to the people!". He urged the Yugoslav people to resist and implored them to never cease resisting. At this moment, a subsequently-famous photograph was taken from which a statue was cast.
Filipović was declared a National Hero of Yugoslavia on 14 December 1949. The town of Valjevo has a statue dedicated to him, "Stevan Filipović". A monument was also erected in his home town of Opuzen in 1968, but was torn down in 1991; reconstruction is planned by the Croatian Ministry of Culture.
- Sinclair, Upton; Sagarin, Edward; Teichnerhe, Albert; Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest p. 438; L. Stuart, 1963.
- Burns, Richard; The Blue Butterfly: Selected Writings p. 144; Salt, 2006, ISBN 1-84471-258-3.
- "Pao partizan - Antifašisti će tužiti opuzensku vlast" (in Croatian). 2010-09-24. Retrieved 2012-05-09.
- "Srušeni heroj - Stjepan Filipović vraća se u centar Opuzena". Slobodna Dalmacija (in Croatian). 2010-11-06. Retrieved 2012-05-09.
- Narodni heroji Jugoslavije, Mladost, Belgrade, 1975.
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