Vladimir Dedijer

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Vladimir Dedijer on the 1969 cover of the Problemi magazine published in Ljubljana.

Vladimir Dedijer (4 February 1914 – 30 November 1990) was a Yugoslav partisan fighter, politician, human rights activist, and historian.

Origins and family[edit]

Vladimir Dedijer was born in Belgrade, in the Kingdom of Serbia. His family originated from Čepelica, Bileća in Bosnia and Herzegovina. His father Jevto was a professor of geography at Belgrade University and his mother Milica a social worker. They had three sons: Borivoje (Boro), Vladimir, and Stevan. Before World War II, Vladimir married Olga Popovic. Their daughter Milica was born in the eve of the war. After Olga's death in 1943, Vladimir married Vera Krizman, an actress, in 1944. He and Vera had four children: daughter Bojana and three sons, Borivoje (Boro), Branimir (Branko), and Marko. Branko committed suicide at 13, after being interrogated about his father's activities, then sent home where he hanged himself. Boro committed suicide by jumping off a cliff just over his father's house in 1966.[1] His father Vladimir believes that Boro was killed by Slovenian police.[2]

Political and revolutionary activity[edit]

In his youth he attended the Conference for Reconciliation in Poland in 1929 as a delegate of Yugoslav high school youth. after, in 1931, he attended the XX World Congress of the Young Men's Christian Association in Cleveland, Ohio. After finishing high school, Dedijer worked for the daily newspaper Politika while studying law. As a journalist he was a foreign correspondent in Poland, Denmark, Norway (1935), England (1935-1936), and Spain (1936). For his support of the Republican government in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, he was fired from Politika in 1937 by order of the Yugoslav government.[3]

During the 1930s Dedijer collaborated with the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (CPY). Dedijer, as a journalist before and after the war, was, in the spirit of his Serbian ancestors, an independent thinker himself. "It is hard to be a Serb," he said once, "But how beautiful!"[4]

Dedijer joined Yugoslav partisans in 1941 in their struggle against the Nazi Germany occupiers and served as Lieutenant Colonel in Tito's headquarters.[3] During the war he was a political commissar with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

His wife, Olga, a medical student who had become a partisan surgeon, was killed during the battle of Sutjeska in Bosnia in 1943. He was wounded then and on two other occasions after.[4] The day after Olga Dedijer funeral he was seriously injured. Tito partisans promoted him to colonel and sent him to recover to Cairo and Naples. In 1944 Dedijer returned to Tito's Adriatic base Vis.[5]

After the war he was a member of Yugoslav delegation on 1946 Paris peace conference and on several sessions of United Nations General Assembly (1945–1952).[6] In 1952 he became a member of the Party's Central Committee and the following year he was appointed to the Federal Assembly. He was the sole member of the Central Committee to side in 1954 with Milovan Djilas when Djilas was deposed by Tito for criticizing a "New Class" of party bureaucrats and advocating the rule of law in socialism. Dedijer defended Djilas' freedom of expression before the Central Committee of the CPY in January 1954, and thus was expelled from the CPY, removed from his political offices, and dismissed from his teaching position in the History Department at the University of Belgrade. Djilas was jailed and Dedijer received a suspended prison sentence of six months.[3][4]

University career[edit]

He was granted a passport by Yugoslav authorities in 1959 and was allowed to leave the country with his family. From then on, he devoted himself to writing history and teaching. He taught at University of Belgrade and was visiting professor of history at Michigan, Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Yale, Paris (Sorbonne), Manchester and Stockholm Universities.[7]

He was a full member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts since 1978.

One of his most famous books is The Yugoslav Auschwitz and the Vatican: The Croatian Massacre of the Serbs During World War II which was translated in several languages. The editor preface of the 1992 book edition reads,

»...in Catholic Croatia, the 'Kingdom of God', everyone who did not belong to the Catholic faith - for the most part Orthodox Serbs - was compelled to convert to Catholicism. Those who refused - as well as many who had already converted - were murdered, usually after prolonged torture in which the order of the day was the cutting off of noses, ears, or other body parts, or poking out eyes. Children were cut out of the bodies of pregnant women and subsequently beheaded; people were chopped to pieces before the eyes of loved ones, who were even forced to catch the spurting blood in a bowl, etc., to list only a few horrors as examples. These atrocities assumed such an extent that even German Nazis, who were not exactly sensitive in such matters, protested. If this historical fact is little known where we are, another fact completely escapes our knowledge: the decisive involvement of the Vatican in these massacres.«

Another book, The Road to Sarajevo, discusses the origins of World War I. His book "Tito: a biography" was translated into twenty languages [8] and all money he got from the book publishers ($ 530,000) Dedijer donated to charities.[5] Dedijer wrote two important accounts of Partisan history: Diary and Tito, both of which have been published in English.

Human rights activity[edit]

He was considered a leading authority on genocide in the twentieth century.[9] Together with Jean-Paul Sartre, chaired the Bertrand Russell International Tribune on War Crimes in the role of the first vice-president.[10] The First International Russell Tribunal was set up in 1967 to adjudicate the war crimes committed by the US in Vietnam.The Tribunal was due to sit in Paris, but the French authorities refused to grant an entry visa to Dedijer. For that reason, the Tribunal held its first session in Stockholm, Sweden (May 2–10, 1967) and the second session in Roskilde, Denmark (Nov 20 - Dec 1 1967). Both sessions were presided by Dedijer. The sessions condemned the US for war crimes, aggression and genocide in the Vietnam war.[11] Dedijer presided the Third International Russell Tribunal was constituted in Darmstadt, held on October 16, 1977. The Tribunal dealt with the denial of the right to practice their chosen profession because of their political convictions in West Germany.[12]

In 1982 Dedijer launched a lawsuit against Kosta Nađ and Ivica Račan.[13]

Dedijer died in Rhineback, New York on 30 November 1990. He was subsequently cremated and his ashes interred in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Dedijer's bibliography[edit]

  • (Slovene) Jugoslovansko-albanski odnosi, 1939-1948, Borba, Ljubljana 1949.
  • Tito speaks: his self-portrait and struggle with Stalin, London : Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1953.
  • On military conventions; an essay on the evolution of international law, Lund, Gleerup 1961
  • The Beloved Land, MacGibbon & Kee, 1961
  • Tito, Simon and Schuster, 1963
  • The Road to Sarajevo, Simon and Schuster, 1966 - World War, 1914-1918
  • History of Yugoslavia, McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1974
  • The Battle Stalin Lost: Memoirs of Yugoslavia 1948-1953, Spokesman Books, Jan 1, 1978
  • (Serbian) Novi prilozi za biografiju Josipa Broza Tita, Mladost, Zagreb 1980
  • (Serbian) Interesne sfere: istorija interesnih sfera i tajne diplomatije uopšte, a posebno Jugoslavije u drugom svetskom ratu, Prosveta, Beograd 1980
  • (Serbian) Vatikan i Jasenovac, Rad Beograd 1987
  • (Serbian) Vatikan i Jasenovac Dokumenti, Rad Beograd 1987
  • (Bosnian) Genocid nad Muslimanima, Svjetlost, Sarajevo 1990
  • The War Diaries of Vladimir Dedijer, Volume 1:From April 6, 1941, to November 27, 1942, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, 1990
  • The War Diaries of Vladimir Dedijer, Volume 2:From November 28, 1942, to September 10, 1943, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, May 1, 1990
  • The War Diaries of Vladimir Dedijer, Volume 3:From September 11, 1943, to November 7, 1944, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, Sep 1, 1990
  • The Yugoslav Auschwitz and the Vatican : the Croatian massacre of the Serbs during World War II, Buffalo, N.Y. : Prometheus Books ; Freiburg, Germany : Ahriman-Verlag, 1992.


  1. ^ Susan Sontag: As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964-1980, Macmillan, Apr 10, 2012, page 316
  2. ^ Nikola Smiljić: Pisac agent službe, Večernje novosti, 23. novembar 2003
  3. ^ a b c Vladimir Dedijer papers, 1881-1987, Michigan Historical Collections Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan 1992
  4. ^ a b c David Binder: Vladimir Dedijer, Tito Biographer And Partisan Fighter, Dies at 90, New York Times, December 4, 1990
  5. ^ a b Der Spiegel 3/1969
  6. ^ "Dedijer, Vladimir". General Encyclopedia of the Yugoslav Lexicographical Institute (in Croatian). 2. Zagreb: Yugoslav Lexicographical Institute. 1977.
  7. ^ Dedijer, Vladimir: Jasenovac: Das jugoslawische Auschwitz und der Vatikan, Broschiert – Oktober 2011, Über den Autor
    "Dedijer, Kampfgefährte und Biograph Titos, Mitglied der Serbischen Akademie der Wissenschaften und Künste in Belgrad, Belgrader Professor für Zeitgeschichte und Gastprofessor u.a. an den Universitäten Michigan, Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Yale, Paris (Sorbonne), Manchester und Stockholm, wurde in der BRD vor allem als Präsident des Russell-Tribunals bekannt, das 1978/79 unter seinem Vorsitz die westdeutschen Berufsverbote verurteilte."
  8. ^ Humanities, Volume 6, The Endowment, 1985, page 21
  9. ^ Russell, Bertrand: The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell, Volume 3, Little, Brown, 1967 page 224
    "Vladimir Dedijer, the Yugoslav writer, had visited me earlier in Wales, and through his wide knowledge of both the Western and Communist worlds proved a valuable ally".
  10. ^ Davidson, Eugene: The Nuremberg Fallacy, University of Missouri Press, 1998 page 210
  11. ^ The Oxford Companion to International Criminal Justice, Oxford University Press, Jan 22, 2009, page 427
  12. ^ Gerard Braunthal: Political Loyalty and Public Service in West Germany: The 1972 Decree Against Radicals and Its Consequences, Univ of Massachusetts Press, 1990 pages 75-76
  13. ^ Antic, Zdenko (22 April 1982), "Dedijer-Bakaric Controversy Over Tito's Biography", Radio Free Europe

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