Koča Popović

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Konstantin Popović
Константин Поповић
Koča Popović (1).jpg
Koča Popović as Foreign Minister
2nd Vice President of Yugoslavia
In office
14 July 1966 – 30 June 1967
President Josip Broz Tito
Preceded by Aleksandar Ranković
Succeeded by Office dissolved
3rd Foreign Minister of Yugoslavia
In office
15 January 1953 – 23 April 1965
Prime Minister Josip Broz Tito
Petar Stambolić
Preceded by Edvard Kardelj
Succeeded by Marko Nikezić
Personal details
Born (1908-03-14)14 March 1908
Belgrade, Kingdom of Serbia
Died 20 October 1992(1992-10-20) (aged 84)
Belgrade, FR Yugoslavia
Political party League of Communists of Yugoslavia
Spouse(s) Veronika Vjera Bakotić
Leposava Lepa Perović
Profession Writer
Military service
Allegiance  Kingdom of Yugoslavia
Service/branch Royal Yugoslav Army
International Brigades
Yugoslav People's Army
Yugoslav Ground Forces emblem Yugoslav Ground Forces
Years of service 1926–1927
Rank Colonel General
Commands Chief of the General Staff
Battles/wars Spanish Civil War,
World War II

Konstantin "Koča" Popović (Serbian Cyrillic: Константин Коча Поповић; 14 March 1908 – 20 October 1992) was a Yugoslav communist volunteer in the Spanish Civil War, 1937–1939 and Divisional Commander of the First Proletarian Division of the Yugoslav Partisans. Sometimes he was known as "the man who saved Yugoslav Partisans" because he broke through the German lines during the crucial Battle of Sutjeska and saved Tito and the rest of the resistance movement. After the war, he served as the Chiefs of the General Staff of the Yugoslav People's Army, before moving to the position of Foreign Minister and spent the final years of his political career as the Vice President of Yugoslavia.

Despite being a member of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, he was a supporter of free market reforms[1] and was also a member of a group of Serbian liberals, a prominent political movement in the 1970s, which also included Marko Nikezić and Latinka Perović. He retired in 1972 amidst pressure put by Serbian nationals against his group of liberals. He spent the rest of his life in Dubrovnik and was very outspoken against the Yugoslav Wars and the regimes of Franjo Tuđman and Slobodan Milošević.

Popović was also among the founders of FK Partizan Belgrade, the football section of the Yugoslav Sports Association Partizan. He died in 1992 at the age 84.

Early life[edit]

Popović came from a prosperous Belgrade family and spent the First World War in Switzerland.[2][3]


In 1929 he moved to Paris to study Law and Philosophy. Here he mixed with the Left Bank world of poets, writers, artists and intellectuals.[4] He became an active Surrealist, active in both the French and Serbian Surrealist groups.[2] In 1931 Nacrt za jednu fenomenologiju iracionalnog (Outline for a Phenomenology of the Irrational) was published which he had co-written with Marko Ristić.[2]

Yugoslavian communism[edit]

He then became involved with the then illegal Yugoslav Communist Party. In Paris there was a center run by Comintern and headed by Tito which was used to feed volunteers from the Balkans to the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War. Popović was drafted through this center along with a select group of Party members. Popović fought with Spanish Republican forces and not the International Brigades, holding the rank of artillery captain. At the close of the Spanish Civil War Popović escaped through France and made his way back to Yugoslavia.[4]

The Partisan War[edit]

In 1940, as a reserve officer in the Royal Yugoslav Army he was mobilised and told by his Colonel to watch out for subversive activities within the regiment.

After the surrender of the Royal Yugoslav Army to the German Army in April 1941, Popović organised the Kosmaj detachment during the rising in Serbia. On the formation of the First Proletarian Brigade, Popović became its commander, and subsequently commanding the First Proletarian Division.[4]

During his time leading the Partisans he encountered William Deakin, leader of the British military mission to Tito's headquarters, who wrote of Popović:

At the head of the First Proletarian Division was General Koča Popović. He had been present at our first encounter with Tito and his Staff on the morning of our arrival, but his identity was not disclosed. Taut and deliberately controlled by a sensitive and disciplined mind and power of will, Popovic was an intellectual soldier of outstanding talents, which were perhaps alien to his inner nature. [...] He was bilingual in caustic polished French, and his mental defences were impenetrable. His sarcasm was rapier-like, respectful of counter-thrusts, be he was never off his guard. [...] Popovic was a lone wolf and a solitary man, with rare unguarded moments. He had a touch of military genius and a hatred of war. He was wary of friendship, and defended with a devilish skill a total integrity of mind and heart. [...] I was frequently in his company, and grew to accept his contrived and polished sallies. Daring with cold deliberation and secret by nature, he was the idol of his troops, but few men knew him.[4]

After War[edit]

After the establishment of a communist regime in Yugoslavia in 1945, he served as the Chief of the Yugoslavian General Staff from 1945-1953. In this function he also conducted negotiations with the representatives of Western powers associated with the modernisation of the JNA during the conflict with the Soviet Union (i.e., Informbiro).

Consequently, he became the foreign minister of Yugoslavia in 1953 and held this office until 1965. As the Foreign Minister, he was the head of the Yugoslav delegation to the UN General Assembly sessions on several occasions.

From 1965 until 1972 he acted as a Member of the Federal Executive Council and the Vice-President of Yugoslavia from 1966 until 1967. In 1985 he was considered for promotion in rank General of the Army, but he was never promoted.

He was decorated with the Order: People's Hero of Yugoslavia, and with other high Yugoslav and 48 foreign decorations.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Čkrebić, Dušan (2012). Koča Popović, duboka ljudska tajna. Službeni glasnik. 
  2. ^ a b c "Konstantin Koča Popović". Nadrealizam. Retrieved 23 February 2014. 
  3. ^ Čkrebić, Dušan (2012). Koča Popović, duboka ljudska tajna. Službeni glasnik. 
  4. ^ a b c d Deakin, F.W.D. (1971). The Embattled Mountain. Oxford University Press. p. 103. ISBN 0-19-215175-4. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Aleksandar Ranković
Vice President of Yugoslavia
Succeeded by
Office dissolved
Preceded by
Edvard Kardelj
Foreign Minister of Yugoslavia
Succeeded by
Marko Nikezić
Military offices
Preceded by
Arso Jovanović
as Chief of the General Staff of People's Liberation Army of Yugoslavia
Chief of the General Staff of Yugoslav Army
(Since 1951 Yugoslav People's Army)

15 September 1945 - 27 January 1953
Succeeded by
Peko Dapčević