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At 16, in 1933, he became a member of the Alliance of Communist Youth of Yugoslavia (SKOJ). That very same year he was arrested for the first time due to taking part in distribution of communist leaflets. He was accepted into Communist Party of Yugoslavia (KPJ) in 1934.
In Cetinje, 1935, during Party demonstrations and clash with the police he was arrested and brutally beaten. He spent a month in jail, after which he continued his education in Podgorica, Nikšić, and Prizren. He was eventually expelled from all these schools.
Because of a break within KPJ in 1936 and the following mass arrests of Party members, the Party in Montenegro organized (dangerous) manifestations causing clashes with the police. Vlado was arrested and spent four months in the Sarajevo jail.
In 1937, he was promoted to the post of Organizing Party Secretary in Cetinje. At the same time he signed up as a volunteer in the Spanish Civil War, on the Republican side. But police discovered the plot and arrested a large group of volunteers, including Vlado.
After his release in 1939, he was accepted for studies at the School of Chemical Engineering in Belgrade. At Belgrade University he took a part in struggles for University autonomy from the Royal Government. In a clash with pro-royalist youths he gained a serious head injury.
During 1940, he went on a Party assignment to Boka Kotorska in Montenegro, where he worked on organizing Party cells. But the local KPJ committee dissolved due to internal misunderstandings and Vlado headed back to Belgrade.
World War II
The German bombing of Belgrade on April 6, 1941, caught Vlado as well. He moved from Belgrade back to Montenegro where he was active in the organization of resistance. However, shortly after a rebellion initiating attack on Čevo, July 13, 1941, he was expelled from the Party.
As a fighter of the Lovćen Partisan Battalion he took part in the assault on Pljevlja, in which he was wounded, and played a part in the founding of the First Proletarian Brigade in Rudo, and crossed Mount Igman at Sarajevo.
At Foča, beginning of 1942, he was re-admitted into the Party, and placed as political commissar for the Drina Volunteer (Partisan) Detachment. By mid-1942, he was promoted to commander of the First Detachment of the Lovcen Battalion. However, due to criticism he was expelled from the Party once again.
As a commander of a bombing squad he took part in many actions until he was wounded at the end of 1942. He also took part in battles on Neretva and Sutjeska. After these he was accepted yet again into the Party and assigned as the Party Commissar for the Seventh Krajina Brigade.
During first half of 1944, he was promoted to the Headquarters Officer School, and then to commissar of the Tenth Division of NOVJ. As the war ended, he held a rank of a lieutenant colonel in the Yugoslav Peoples Army.
After the war he was a professor at the Higher Party School, and then, in 1947, was promoted to JNA Chief of Administration for Agitation and Propaganda (Agitprop).
After the war
In 1948, he attended the Fifth Party Congress. However, due to accepting the Resolutions of the Information Bureau, he tried to flee the country. On the Romanian border, the chief of Army Headquarters, General Arso Jovanović, Vlado's companion in the attempt to flee, lost his life in armed clashes with the border guard. Vlado himself escaped unscathed and for a time hid in Belgrade. He was arrested during his attempt to escape to Communist Hungary, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
From June 1950 until December 6, 1956, he spent time in concentration camps at Stara Gradiska, Bileca, and Goli Otok, each time being exposed to brutal torture.
Upon arrival in USSR he was offered to continue education or to accept a corresponding job; he refused and continued with political work. During 1961, he organized strong propaganda at the Conference of Communist Parties in Moscow. As a result, thanks in part to his activity, the Conference adopted the resolution of condemnation of the Yugoslav Communist Alliance (SKJ) as revisionist and an Anti-Marxist Party.
During the Cuban missile crisis, Vlado with other émigrés organized volunteer groups to Cuba. However, they were prevented from departing by the Soviet authorities.
Living in Odessa during 1964 and 1965, Vlado worked on a doctoral dissertation about the Yugoslav workers movement. In early 1965, he tried to volunteer in the Vietnam War, but was once again prevented.
He left the USSR in 1966 by illegally emigrating to Western Europe. For survival in Belgium, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands, he was a physical laborer. At the same time he tried to develop political dissent among the Yugoslav economic emigration (gastarbeiters), but with no results. West European police arrested him several times and expelled him from each country. At last in 1969, he received permanent residence in Belgium.
From Belgium, he was in contact with West European Marxist-Leninist groups and took part in their activities. In 1973, he survived an assassination attempt by the UDBA.
The Romanian and Yugoslav secret services, in Bucharest, 1975, organized the successful kidnapping and extradition of Vlado to Yugoslavia. He was sentenced to death in absentia, but the punishment was commuted to 20 years hard labor (not in small part due to his being the brother of the renowned JNA General and W.W. II hero Peko Dapčević). He was released from the Požarevac jail in 1988, and promptly expelled from Yugoslavia.
Following improving political conditions in the country and the abolition for the prohibition to return, Vlado came back in September 1990. In many interviews and public appearances he argued about the imminent danger of civil war and dissolution of Yugoslavia.
After a year he was at the front of the 'new' KPJ, but because of his struggle against nationalism, this party split off. On March 27, 1992, he founded the Party of Labour.
During civil war in the former Yugoslavia, he actively worked on the strengthening of democracy and brotherhood and unity, against the Milošević regime in Belgrade.
From 1992, and until 1996, he attended Marxist-Leninist party conferences and meetings. During the First Party of Work Congress, in 1997, Vlado set the 'Party Program' and political aims, putting the foundation for real revolutionary party in Yugoslavia.
- Josip Broz Tito
- Peko Dapčević
- Arso Jovanović
- Milovan Đilas
- Yugoslav Partisans