How Tito Took Over the Yugoslav Communist Party
This study by the well-known Yugoslav oppositionist Ante Ciliga (1898-1992) was first published as ‘Como Tito si impadroni del Partito comunista Jugoslavo’ (Corrispondenza socialista, Second year, no 7, July 1961, pp393-9). It was reprinted as no 12 in the Studi e Ricerche series of the Quaderni of the Centro Studi Pietro Tresso in 1989 with an introduction by Paolo Casciola, for both of which we offer our thanks, as we do to our translator, Barbara Rossi.
Ciliga is, of course, well known for his book The Russian Enigma, first published in truncated form by Routledge and the Labour Book Service in London in 1940, and in full only in 1979 by Ink Links. Ciliga’s revelations about life in the Comintern and the gulag (cf ‘In Stalin’s Prisons’, New International, Volume 10, nos 1-3, January-March 1944) caused a sensation when they were first published in the Biulleten Oppozitsii (cf The Militant, 8 February 1936), and were commented upon by Trotsky in ‘Stalin’s Revolutionary Prisoners’, 15 January 1936, ‘Statement to Associated Press’, 8 February, and ‘The Spiciest Dishes are Still to Come’, May 1936 (Writings of Leon Trotsky, 1935-36, New York, 1977, pp245-9, 263, 328-30). There had even been unfounded suspicions as far back as wartime that the ‘Brezhovich’ of these articles and ‘Marshal Tito’ were one and the same (‘Is Marshal “Tito” — Brezhovich?’, Fourth International, Volume 5, no 3, March 1944, p95). But when Ciliga began to publish articles in the Menshevik press abroad Trotsky withdrew his collaboration, describing his views as ‘hot-headed Menshevik’ and ‘Liberal-anarchic abstraction’ (‘On Comrade Ciliga’s Articles’, 3 June 1936, Writings of Leon Trotsky, 1935-36, New York, 1977, p330; ‘Letters about Anton Ciliga’, December 1935–January 1936, Writings of Leon Trotsky, Supplement, 1934-40, New York, 1979, pp629-35). Ciliga’s The Kronstadt Revolt was published by Freedom Press in 1942. Ciliga’s most important work on Yugoslavia has not been published in an English-language translation, but is available in Italian, Il labirinto jugoslavo. Passato e futuro delle nazioni balcaniche [The Yugoslav Labyrinth. Past and Future for the Balkan Countries], Jaca Books, Milan, 1983. Stephen Schwarz’s ‘Ante Ciliga (1898-1992): A Life at History’s Crossroads’ was published in the San Francisco Chronicle and the Journal of Croatian Studies, New York, Volume 24-25, and can be consulted on the Revolutionary History website. A more critical treatment, Philippe Bourrinet’s ‘An Ambiguous Journey: Ante Ciliga (1898-1992)’, is due to appear in the next issue of Radical Chains.
Useful background reading for Balkan Marxism and Communism is Zhivka Topolovich, Social Democracy, What is It? The Birth of Socialism and Communism in Yugoslavia (London, 1981; reviewed by Walter Kendall in the South Slav Journal, Volume 9, nos 1-2, Spring-Summer 1986). So are Leon Trotsky, The Balkan Wars (New York, 1980), John Reed, War in Eastern Europe (London, 1994), Loukas Karliaftis, The Balkans: Revolution or Counter-Revolution? (Athens, 1993), Aleksander Golub, ‘Balkan Federation’ (New Interventions, Volume 7, no 2, Spring 1996, pp20-1) and the two collections put together by CERMTRI, Documents sur la question balkanique (1908-1923) (Cahier no 73, June 1994) and Documents sur la question balkanique 2 (1912-1943) (Cahier no 78, September 1995). Trotsky’s ‘Letter to Yugoslav Comrades’ of 10 October 1920 can be consulted in What Next? (no 6, 1997, pp37-8).
Historical accounts and biographies of Tito are many and various, and we have only space for a few here. Vladimir Dedijer’s Tito Speaks came out in 1953 (cf the review by Michel Pablo, Fourth International, Volume 14, no 1, January/February 1953, pp31-2, and Mark Wheeler’s obituary, ‘Vladimir Dedijer’, Independent, 11 December 1990), and Milovan Djilas’ Conversations with Stalin in 1962 (Penguin paperback, 1963). Phyllis Auty’s Tito: A Biography first appeared in 1970, and a revised Penguin edition appeared in 1974. Djilas’ Tito: The Story from Inside, was published in English by Weidenfield in 1981 (cf the reviews by Nora Beloff, ‘Knowing Tito’, Daily Telegraph, 19 March 1981, and Edward Crankshaw, ‘Cutting Tito Down to Size’, Observer, 29 March 1981). Fitzroy MacLean and Frank McLynn’s Britain and Tito in World War II is reviewed by ‘CA’ in Marxist Review, Volume 8, no 2, February 1993, pp31-2. The most recent full-length treatments are those of Jasper Ridley, Tito, and Richard West, Tito and the Rise and Fall of Yugoslavia (reviewed by William Tribe, ‘Silly Tito Tattle’, Guardian, 14 June 1994; Norman Stone, ‘Partisans of the Marshal’, The Times, 16 June 1994; Marcus Tanner, ‘Draped in the Ragged Flag of Chauvinism’, Independent, 29 June 1994; David Owen, ‘Unite and Rule’, Sunday Times, 3 July 1994; Mark Frankland, ‘Only He Got Away with It’, Observer, 3 July 1994).
Criticism of Tito was bound to surface after the break-up of Yugoslavia (for example, Eric Russell, ‘Yugoslavs Take a Tilt at Tito’, Sunday Times, 28 January 1990; Marcus Tanner, ‘Serbs Set Out to Smash Cult of Tito the Croat’, Observer, 6 May 1990). In an interview with the journalist Alexander Nenadovich, General Popovich, the leader of Tito’s guerrillas during the war, and later Vice-President of Yugoslavia, claimed that Tito ‘repressed and even persecuted anyone disagreeing with him’ (Barney Petrovic, ‘War Hero Claims Tito Repressive’, Guardian, 9 February 1989). Ernest Weissmann, who had functioned in illegality before the war, and was decorated with the Order of Tito, later admitted that Trotsky had been right (Gordon Weissmann, ‘In Memory of a Yugoslav Communist’, Workers Vanguard, 6 May 1988).
The basic documents of the Stalin-Tito split can be most conveniently consulted in Tito, Kardelj and Molotov, ‘The First Breach’, in Tariq Ali (ed), The Stalinist Legacy, Harmondsworth, 1984, pp214-20. A useful outline written by Tony Cliff at the time occupies pages 151-6 and 233-302 of Ygael Gluckstein, Stalin’s Satellites in Europe (London, 1952, chapter 3, part 2, ‘Yugoslavia: The Exceptional Case’, and part 3, ‘The Rebellious Satellite’). An interview with Milovan Djilas in 1988 also recalls the split (Barney Petrovic, ‘Yugoslavs Grimly Celebrate Forty Pioneering Years’, Guardian, 24 June 1988).
Once the split had taken place, it did not take long for Stalin and Tito to accuse each other of ‘Trotskyism’, even if the label was meaningless in both cases (Kamalesh Banerji, ‘Interview with Marshal Tito’, Janata, 1 October 1950, reproduced in Fourth International, Volume 11, no 6, November/December 1950, pp188-92; James Klugmann, From Trotsky to Tito, London, 1951). In spite of Eric Hobsbawm’s lame attempt to justify him (‘Gospel According to an Apostle Who Wasn’t’, Guardian, 29 June 1985), Klugmann’s dubious activities at this time continue to fascinate observers (for example, Walter Kendall, ‘James Klugmann’, Labour History Review, Autumn 1992; his review of Michael Lees’ The Rape of Serbia in Revolutionary History, Volume 4, no 3, Summer 1992, pp106-10; Paul Flewers, ‘A Few Words on James Klugmann’s From Trotsky to Tito’, New Interventions, Volume 7, no 2, Spring 1996, pp20-1; Colin Brown and John Crossland, ‘How a Soviet Mole United Tito and Churchill’, Independent, 28 June 1997; Richard Norton-Taylor, ‘Churchill Took KGB Advice’, Guardian, 1 July 1997).
The Trotskyists, for their part, approached Titoism with an astounding naïveté. To the bibliography printed in a former issue of this journal (Revolutionary History, Volume 3, no 1, Summer 1990, p9) we might add the basic documentation collected in ‘Documents de la IVème Internationale sur la Yougoslavie (1948-1950)’, Cahiers du CERMTRI, no 85, June 1997, one of the most ludicrous pieces being written by Gérard Bloch (‘The Test of Yugoslavia’, Fourth International, Volume 11, no 4, July/August 1950, pp116-21). The only one that could be reprinted without courting ridicule today is Ted Grant and Jock Haston’s Behind the Stalin-Tito Clash (RCP, 1948). On the whole Shachtman’s supporters produced a better analysis (HF and Hal Draper, ‘The Nature of Titoism — An Exchange of Views’, New International, Volume 16, no 4, July/August 1950, pp234-48; Henry Judd, ‘Lenin’s Way — Or Tito’s?’, New International, Volume 16, no 6, November/December 1950, pp338-49). The confusion of the Trotskyists at the time is recalled by Lutte ouvrière, ‘When Tito was a Revolutionary, According to Pierre Frank and Gérard Bloch’ (Revolutionary History, Volume 3, no 1, Summer 1990, pp9-10, translated from Lutte ouvrière, no 149, 6-12 July 1971), Bob Pitt, ‘The Fourth International and Yugoslavia (1948-50)’, Workers News, July 1991, and Jan Norden, Yugoslavia, East Europe and the Fourth International: The Evolution of Pabloist Liquidationism, Prometheus Research Series, no 4, 1993.
HE first years of the history of the Yugoslav Communist Party (KPJ) were dominated by infighting between its left and right wings, and by repeated interventions by the Communist International (Comintern) aimed at overcoming this chronic factionalism. But from 1923, and particularly after 1925, the intervention of the Comintern within the KPJ became an attempt with ever-increasing brutality to impose Stalin and Bukharin’s diktat on the Yugoslav party.
In this situation, the Third Congress of the KPJ, held under the auspices of the Executive Committee of the Comintern (ECCI) from April 1925, was supposed to enable the KPJ to escape from its factionalist impasse, which had been worsened by the Yugoslav state’s anti-Communist repression. The way chosen to counter ‘factionalism’ and ‘sectarianism’ within the KPJ was to give the leadership of the party to its right-wing tendency.
In August 1925, a provisional Executive Committee of the KPJ was established, directly in Moscow, and was given the task of preparing the congress. It was during this very congress, held in Vienna during 17-22 May 1926, that the bureaucratised Comintern entrusted the Political Bureau of the KPJ to the right, led by Sima Marković, a Serb, and strengthened by the centrist tendency headed by trade unionists Djuro Salaj and Jacob Žorga.
The policy of the Comintern for Yugoslavia at the time, developed by Bukharin, gave great importance to workplace and trade union struggles, whilst overlooking the national question. In this context, Marković, speaking for the Serbian nationalist current within the KPJ, was the right man at the right time. The ‘Great-Serbian centralist’ line he initiated was to lead between the winter of 1927 and the spring of 1928 to a political defeat for all those within the party who were trying to go beyond the Serbo-Croatian and other national conflicts in Yugoslavia — in other words, a defeat for the leadership of the left of the KPJ.
Within the space of just one year, however, the right-wing leadership had become so discredited in the eyes of the party that in the autumn of 1927 the Central Committee plenum decided to demote Marković from his post as the political secretary of the Political Bureau, and to elect a new leadership in his place. Marković was replaced by Djuro Cvijić, the leader of the KPJ’s ‘historic left’, that is, the tendency that from 1921 had fought against the reformist wing of the KPJ, albeit with a perspective limited to Yugoslav matters, and with no coordination whatsoever with any of the various left groupings existing within the other national Communist parties. This tendency enjoyed the support of centrist trade unionists.
The Zagreb organisation of the KPJ, traditionally a bulwark of the left, fully accepted this change, which had nevertheless taken place without any agreement with Moscow, and which openly flouted the then leading line within the Comintern, that of Bukharin. Faced with this situation, Bukharin declared void the decisions taken by the Central Committee of the KPJ and in virtue of his authority revoked the appointment of the new left-wing Political Bureau. In this, he was supported by Manuilsky and Josip Čižinsky (Milan Gorkić).
Milan Gorkić belonged to the young Bukharinist group, and was at the heart of the Yugoslav operation orchestrated by Bukharin. Faced with the impossibility of reimposing Marković as the KPJ’s leader, it was decided that a Political Bureau should be created, composed of Yugoslav Communists living in Moscow — and thus duly ‘Bolshevised’ — who were then to be sent to Yugoslavia to take over the leadership of the KPJ, and once and for all oust its ‘centre-left’ leadership.
The operation consisted in despatching into Yugoslavia a few appropriately chosen elements, whose task it was to convince the local branches of the KPJ to call on the Comintern to intervene in the internal affairs of the party, and also undermine the authority of its left-wing leaders. In so doing, it was hoped that the way could be opened for a ‘spontaneous and democratic’ establishment of the Political Bureau, suddenly manifesting itself in Moscow.
Among the first ‘Yugoslav agents’ of the Comintern to arrive in Yugoslavia were the head of Bukharin’s operation, the secretary of the metalworkers’ union Djuro Djaković and his deputy Mathias Brezović, who was appointed as the KPJ secretary for Croatia, and who was later to be exposed as a spy for the Yugoslav police. Contacts between Djaković, who went to live in Zagreb, and Gorkić and Bukharin in Moscow were assured by Jovan Mališić (Martinović), who was sent to live in Vienna for this purpose.
For the operation another young militant was also used, one Josip Broz, who was later to become Marshal Tito. Tito had Croatian origins and had been a petty officer in the Austro-Hungarian army until 1915, when he was made prisoner by Tsarist troops. He actually went over to Bolshevism only in 1919-20, and fought within the ranks of the Red Army before returning to Yugoslavia in 1925. Recruited to the operation by Djaković, Tito became one of its main forces, playing a crucial rôle in ensuring the implementation of Gorkić and Bukharin’s plans — an effort that was nevertheless to require a few months to complete.
As organising secretary of the KPJ’s committee in Zagreb, Tito engaged in a hard political struggle against its left-wing majority, who were refusing to submit to Moscow’s manoeuvres in Yugoslavia. This struggle reached its climax with the Eighth Congress of the KPJ’s Zagreb organisation, held during the night of 25-26 February 1928. On that occasion, Tito presented a report in opposition to that of Dušan Grković, the committee’s political secretary, in which he denounced the factionalism which was supposedly an obstacle for any work among the masses. Tito’s demagogy hit the mark, and the majority of the delegates approved his minority counter-report, electing a new local committee and a new political secretary: Tito himself. For Tito, this was the first success in his rise to the very top of the Yugoslav party.
After gaining control of the Zagreb organisation of the KPJ, Tito went on to convince the Zagreb Committee to accept his proposal and ask the Comintern to intervene in the internal affairs of the KPJ. The committee then sent to the ECCI a letter describing the situation within the Yugoslav party and the need to fight factionalism. Finally, in April 1928, the ECCI called the ‘Muscovite’ leaders of the KPJ to a consultation, at the end of which an open letter from the ECCI to the Yugoslav party was approved. This letter denounced factionalism and emphasised the need to give the party a new national leadership, so as to allow a resolution of the crisis. The Comintern therefore decided to dissolve the ‘factionalist’ centre-left leadership of the KPJ, and to appoint in its place a provisional Political Bureau consisting of three members led by Djaković. This new leadership was then given the task of initiating discussions on the open letter in all the local organisations of the KPJ, to make a start with the purging of ‘factionalists’ and to prepare for the KPJ’s Fourth Congress.
At this point, it is necessary to discuss the issue of factionalism. Starting from the Eighth Congress of the Zagreb organisation in February 1928, the ‘Muscovite’ grouping of the KPJ took on the form of an ‘anti-factionalist current’, fighting against both the right and the left. In reality, however, the Djaković-Tito faction invariably tended to fight against the left, allying itself with the right.
In this respect, we must also emphasise the specific character of the political organisation of the Yugoslav workers’ movement. According to the terminology prevailing in Yugoslavia at the time, the ‘left’ did not actually represent the equivalent of the Soviet Left Opposition. That term defined instead the anti-reformist current created within the KPJ in 1921, which we have already mentioned. The fundamental political dividing line between left and right seemed to lie in a different assessment of the national question in Yugoslavia — and consequently of a crucial aspect of the Yugoslav revolution. In the name of proletarian internationalism, the left opposed the Great-Serbian nationalistic tendencies present within the party represented by Sima Marković, the leader of the right wing of the KPJ. Djaković’s ‘anti-factionist’ faction, despite originating from the historic left of the party, actually adopted the same Great-Serbian centralising line which typified the right.
At any rate, the national question played a significant rôle in the clashes within the Yugoslav party during 1926-28. According to the Bukharinite policy of the Comintern for Yugoslavia, as already mentioned, great emphasis was given to trade union activity and struggle, since these were demagogically considered as a universal cure for left-wing ‘factionalism’. However, this policy neglected the national question, which was in fact one of the main reasons for the factional struggles. This Bukharinite ‘workerism’ obviously favoured the centre and the right of the party, as they had solid foundations in the Yugoslav trade union organisations.
The defeat of the centre-left leadership of the KPJ, prepared between the winter of 1927 and the spring of 1928 and brought about thanks to an alliance between the historic right and the ‘anti-factionalist’ faction created by the Comintern in Moscow, amounted, therefore, to a victory for the Great-Serbian centralising line.
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In the period following the victory of the Comintern ‘agents’ and the right wing over the left, a few unforeseen facts came to change the course of events within the KPJ: firstly, there was Radić’s assassination, and then Bukharin’s expulsion from the leadership of the International, and finally the royalist putsch of 6 January 1929.
On 20 June 1928, Puniša Račić, a Montenegrin member of parliament with pan-Serbian opinions and financed by the Yugoslav Prime Minister, opened fire in the Skupština (the parliament), shooting five Croatian Peasant Party representatives. Two died immediately, and Stjepan Radić, the party’s leader, was mortally wounded. The Belgrade killings revealed the unbearable tensions reached in the antagonism between Serbs and Croats, and brought the national question urgently to the fore. The Stalinised Comintern could no longer ignore the problem of the various nationalities that made up Yugoslavia, indeed it made an about-turn, giving a new and fundamental rôle to the national question, and relegating the social struggle to the background.
All this was taking place at a time of growing political struggle within the country, and while the Yugoslav government was in the process of ratifying the Neptune Conventions with Mussolini’s Italy. Along with the KPJ, the demonstrations against imperialism and Great-Serbian hegemony were led by the democratic peasant coalition. The crisis of Great-Serbian centralist Yugoslavia was worsening, and the assassinations of 20 June were the spark that ignited this explosive situation.
Zagreb then became the centre of agitation. The KPJ set up its military organisation, for it is clear that it thought it possible that a Communist revolution would erupt from the Croatian national revolt. It was especially from this time — and then until 1936 — that the KPJ adopted a hostile position toward Serbian rule, and became very sympathetic towards the nationalism and chauvinism espoused by Croats and other non-Serbian populations, if not openly politically supportive of them.
Tito was arrested on 4 August 1928 as part of a police raid against the KPJ, thanks to the intelligence supplied by the spy Brezović — one of the ‘agents’ of the Comintern in Yugoslavia — and other agents provocateurs who had infiltrated the party. Tito was given a five-year prison sentence, and could not therefore attend the KPJ’s Fourth Congress, held in Dresden at the beginning of November 1928. The congress proceedings were undoubtedly influenced by the switch made by the Comintern for its Sixth World Congress in August-September of the same year. This congress was organised at a time when the period of relative stabilisation of capitalism was drawing to a close, to be followed by the ‘Third Period’.
With the left finally defeated, the Fourth Congress of the KPJ — then numbering around 2000 members — launched an attack against the right wing led by Marković. In line with the Third Period switch imposed by Stalin, the KPJ adopted an adventurist ultra-leftist approach, according to which an explosion of revolutionary crises was imminent, and Social Democracy was to be equated with fascism. Within this general political line, the KPJ formulated its thesis of the imminence of a bourgeois-democratic revolution in Yugoslavia, which was soon to turn into a proletarian Socialist revolution. The tactical corollary of this short-term strategic perspective included boycotting reformist trade unions, and an abstract and sectarian conception of the policy of the united front.
Soon after the congress ended, and using the governmental crisis of December 1928 as a pretext, King Alexander, with the help of the leaders of Yugoslavia’s bourgeois parties, abolished the constitution of 1921 and dissolved the national assembly. On 6 January 1929, he imposed a Bonapartist regime in which all power was concentrated in his hands. The monarch then appointed a government led by General Petar Ziković and including politicians who were loyal to the crown. He also decreed the dissolution of the KPJ — a party he had already banned — and created a reign of terror throughout the entire country.
The KPJ, by then fully in its Third Period course, reacted to these events by adopting the adventurist slogan of armed insurrection, from an assessment that the continuing crisis was in fact a general state, economic and political crisis of the entire ruling system of the Serbian bourgeoisie. However, in the meantime state repression was hitting the KPJ hard, and it became the victim of ruthless persecutions. Djaković was among the hundreds of Communist leaders and militants murdered in those years of white terror, and the country’s prisons filled up more and more with each passing day.
Immediately after the putsch on 6 January, the leadership of the KPJ — with Milan Gorkić still its éminence grise — became totally bankrupt. According to Ciliga, it showed its true colours as being made up ‘of cowards, incompetents and traitors’. In fact, the Third Period policy followed by Gorkić and his associates after King Alexander’s putsch amounted to a death sentence for hundreds of Communist militants due to the adventurist orientation of the armed insurrection. This policy was strongly opposed among the KPJ members in Moscow, above all within the left-wing group, which numbered about 50 members. The opposition was centred at the KPJ’s school in Moscow, whose members had been opposed from the outset to the manoeuvring of Gorkić and Bukharin.
For these reasons, the Comintern called for a general assembly of all Yugoslavs in Moscow in February 1929, in an attempt to iron things out. After an animated discussion, the assembly declared the Comintern report unsatisfactory, and rejected its resolution, approving in its place by 90 votes to five a counter-resolution criticising the conduct of the KPJ’s leaders. This therefore amounted to an indirect condemnation of the policy embraced by the Stalinised Comintern. This opposition was led by the Yugoslav Trotskyist group in Moscow, established in the latter half of 1928 after various disagreements both in relation to Soviet domestic policy in respect of the agrarian question and the bureaucratisation of the party, and to the course followed by the Comintern world-wide in respect of the Anglo-Russian Trade Union Unity Committee and the Chinese Revolution of 1925-27.
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In this period, as well as criticising the Russian party and the Comintern, the Yugoslav Trotskyist group delved deeper in the discussions about the nature of the Yugoslav revolution. Previously, during 1924-25, the KPJ’s historic left recommended exploiting the issue of nationalities to the advantage of a social revolutionary perspective. However, this orientation had turned into a pure and simple subjugation to the bourgeois nationalism of Yugoslavia’s oppressed peoples. The Trotskyist group fought vigorously against any policy of subordinating the proletariat to the national bourgeoisie, and succeeded in attracting to its camp almost all the Yugoslav left groups present in Moscow, that is, the great majority of the Yugoslav Communists then active in the Soviet Union.
The Yugoslav Trotskyist group in Moscow, the heir of the revolutionary tradition of the historic left of Yugoslav Communism, was, however, forced to carry out its work in the illegality imposed by Stalin’s Bonapartism. This group was composed of approximately 20 militants, with a leadership of six: Stanko Dragić (Russian pseudonym: JV Kovalev), in charge of the Yugoslav Trotskyist centre in Moscow and a long-standing member of the KPJ Central Committee, as well as the former secretary of the KPJ local committee in Zagreb; Mustafa Dedić (Russian pseudonym: Victor Soloviev), the old secretary of the Hercegovina trade union committee, in Mostar; Stjepan Heberling (Russian pseudonym: V Suslov), former member of the KPJ local committee for Voivodina, in Novi Sad; the previously mentioned Ante Ciliga, of whom more shortly; and two Russian militants, Victor Zankov and Oreste Glibovsky.
The centre was in contact with the Soviet Trotskyist organisation in Moscow. The activities of the Yugoslav group were based on interventions among workers in the Moscow factories and Yugoslav Communists living in Moscow. Those Yugoslav Trotskyists who were working in the factories were in contact with workers supporting the Russian Left Opposition. Work among KPJ militants consisted, at least in part, in denouncing the global policy followed by the Stalinised Comintern and its application in Yugoslavia, so as to link the Yugoslav defeats with the adventurist line proposed by the Comintern.
The only leader of this Yugoslav Left Opposition of whom we have detailed biographical information is Ante Ciliga. Born in 1898 of a Croatian peasant family in Istria, he became a member of the Croatian Communist Party in 1918. He was one of the founding members of the KPJ, and between 1919 and 1921 he was active in the Communist movement in Yugoslavia, in Soviet Hungary, in Czechoslovakia and in Italy. He was appointed Secretary of the KPJ for Croatia, and from 1922 he frequently worked abroad for the party. In 1924, he became part of the Comintern apparatus in Vienna, and later in Prague. In April 1925, Ciliga was appointed to the Central Committee and the Political Bureau of the KPJ. Expelled from the country in 1926, he became a member of the ‘foreign bureau’ of the Yugoslav party, representing it at the Comintern Balkan Secretariat in Moscow, where he arrived in October 1926 after yet another spell in Vienna. He was in charge of the KPJ School in Moscow for three years, and, in the summer of 1928, he attended the Comintern’s Sixth World Congress. After the establishment of the Yugoslav Trotskyist group in Moscow, he began to teach at the Communist University in Leningrad in 1930, where the group’s centre had moved.
This move was dictated by the decision of Stalin’s Comintern to proceed with the liquidation of the group itself. The first step in this direction had been the establishment of a committee charged with arbitrating in the case of the Yugoslav Left Opposition, in an attempt to dissolve it. Once this manoeuvre had failed, a new (mixed) committee was set up from members of the KPJ Central Committee and some leading figures in the Comintern. The committee was chaired by former Menshevik NN Popov, and concluded its work within six months. It then called a meeting to present its conclusions, which were approved by the majority of the delegates (by 21 votes to 17). This significant minority then appealed to the Central Committee for a reassessment of the entire issue.
A few days later, a control committee created by the Stalinised Comintern and chaired by Solts, met to organise repression against the Yugoslav opposition. The outcome of this meeting was Ciliga’s expulsion, alongside that of two Yugoslav students from the KPJ School. These expulsions were for one year, whereas 20 other students were forced by the Comintern to leave Moscow, ‘so as to bring about the necessary calm in the in-fighting within the Yugoslav party’. A few dozen students received a very stern warning. These bureaucratic measures were complemented by an attempt to corrupt — both politically and materially — the Yugoslav Trotskyists and so win them over to Stalin’s official doctrine. For some time, this actually caused a relative relaxation of their repression.
Meanwhile, after these disciplinary measures had been adopted, a meeting of the Yugoslav Trotskyist group took place, with approximately 10 militants in attendance. This meeting decided to carry on the struggle within the KPJ, illegally if necessary. So the Yugoslav opposition began to circulate documents which criticised the policy followed by the KPJ Central Committee. Then, around the autumn of 1929, the group’s centre was moved to Leningrad.
The events taking place in the Soviet Union during 1929-30 caused some differences to emerge within the centre of the Yugoslav Trotskyist group. Its majority (Dragić, Heberling, Ciliga and the Russians Zankov and Glibovsky), favoured a harder fight against the KPJ leadership, whereas Dedić was opting for a more moderate stance. But even amongst this majority, according to Ciliga, some small differences existed: Glibovsky was ‘to the right’, Zankov was ‘to the left’, while Dragić, Heberling and Ciliga himself represented somehow the ‘centre’, and played a mediating rôle.
In April 1930, the various positions within the group had become clear. Dedić ceased to cooperate and left the group altogether. As for the group, it was not demoralised by this development, but rather became all the more determined to continue its activities. So, on 1 May 1930, Ciliga left Leningrad for Moscow, to discuss with the Trotskyist organisation there the differences still existing within the Yugoslav centre. However, the situation in Moscow was not favourable to theoretical discussion, for the Bolshevik-Leninist Left Opposition was actively organising wide-ranging activities in the factories.
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Ciliga returned to Leningrad around 10 May, and was arrested on 21 May. Dedić was arrested too, on the same day, whereas Dragić managed to flee. But he too was caught, around three months later. Heberling, Zankov and Glibovsky met with the same fate, together with approximately 20 others, all the members of the Yugoslav Left Opposition living in Moscow and Leningrad, and of whom we know nothing. Dragić, Ciliga, Zankov, Glibovsky and Dedić were sent to the political detention centre of Verkhne-Uralsk. The first to arrive there were the two Russians. Two months later they were joined by Ciliga and Dedić, who were also given a three year sentence. Dragić arrived at a later stage. So began the Gulag odyssey for the Yugoslav Trotskyists.
They were all active in the Bolshevik-Leninist Collective of Verkhne-Uralsk. According to Ciliga’s recollections, the Verkhne-Uralsk Trotskyists were then split into three tendencies: the ‘right-wing’ tendency, which was also the strongest, led by E Solntsev, G Yakovin and G Stopalov, which based itself on the ‘Programme of the Three’ and to which F Dingelstedt also belonged; a small middle grouping, a ‘centre’ one, led by Trotsky’s son-in-law, Man Nevelson, and by Aaron Papermeister, based on the ‘Programme of the Two’; and finally a ‘left-wing’ faction comprising Pushas, Kamenetsky, Kvachadze and Bielensky, based on the ‘Theses of Militant Bolsheviks’. The right and centre tendencies jointly published Pravda in prison, while the left faction’s press was entitled The Militant Bolshevik. These ‘papers’ consisted in fact of a series of exercise-books, and appeared monthly or every two months. They were produced in three manuscript copies, one for each wing of Verkhne-Uralsk.
In 1930, discussions among Trotskyists in Verkhne-Uralsk centred around the position to take now that they were faced with the ‘left’ policy started by Stalin (the Five Year Plan, forced industrialisation and land collectivisation). The right tendency thought that the Five Year Plan — despite the methods with which it was being implemented — corresponded to the aims of the Opposition. For this reason, although it was necessary to criticise such methods, it called for support for Stalin’s official economic policy. The left faction thought the opposite, and it was this faction Ciliga chose to join. They thought that a reform of the Soviet economy had to start from below and that it was thus necessary to base oneself on the working class, in an effort to split the party. According to these left-wing Bolshevik-Leninists, both the plan and Stalin’s entire economic policy were nothing but bluff. Moreover, at an international level they denied the existence of a world-wide economic crisis and of a conjuncture favourable to revolution. In other words, they decisively attacked the very basis of the Comintern’s Third Period.
The political struggle within the Verkhne-Uralsk Bolshevik-Leninist Collective became progressively harsher. The right and centre tendencies, by now virtually merged, presented the left faction with an organisational ultimatum: dissolve and cease publication of The Militant Bolshevik, or face expulsion from the organisation.
In the end, in the summer of 1931, a split became inevitable and two separate groupings were formed: the majority Bolshevik-Leninist Collective, with between 75 and 78 members, and the left Bolshevik-Leninist Collective, with 51 or 52 members. Some militants remained outside the two groups, insisting on the need for a reconciliation. The left collective then began publishing a new ‘paper’, The Bolshevik-Leninist, with NP Gorlov, V Densov, M Kamenetsky, P Pushas and Ante Ciliga on its editorial board. Later Ciliga was to break with the left collective and contribute to the establishment of the Left Communists Federation, which included Miasnikov’s followers, the Decists and some former Trotskyists. The political basis of the Federation was its refusal to recognise the proletarian nature (even if of a deformed sort) of the Soviet state, which it termed ‘state capitalism’. This was a position shared by the Mensheviks.
H H H
The members of the Yugoslav Opposition were not released at the end of their deportation terms on 22 May 1933. Rather, after a hunger strike lasting 23 days and aimed at obtaining their repatriation, they saw their sentences increased by another two years on the initiative of the Soviet authorities, without any new accusations against them and without a proper trial. Ciliga was deported to Yeniseisk (in the Irkutsk region, eastern Siberia), passing through Cheliabinsk. Dedić was sent to eastern Siberia, to the village of Kolpachevo (Narym department), while Dragić was deported to Saratov, on the Volga. As for Heberling, he was moved from prison to prison, until he finally arrived in the Urals. Dragić managed to escape in 1934, but was arrested on the border between Russia and Poland and imprisoned in the secret jails on the Solovietsky Islands. At the end of their additional two year sentence, Stalin’s GPU renewed their deportation order once more, and in a totally arbitrary way, extending it by another three years.
Taking advantage of his Italian nationality and thanks to his relatives’ pressure from abroad, Ciliga managed to have his sentence commuted to expulsion from Soviet territory. He took refuge in Paris, and for a while participated in the life and activities of the Trotskyist movement, with which he had come into contact in Prague, after his expulsion from the USSR, thanks to the intervention of the two Czechoslovak Trotskyists Vladislav Burian and Jan Frankel. Ciliga contributed to the Biulleten Oppozitsii, the Russian-language paper published by the Trotskyist movement. He also began corresponding with Trotsky himself.
However, his participation in the movement was short-lived. At the beginning of June 1936, the Menshevik journal Sotsialistichesky Vestnik published a piece by Ciliga, with his consent. Due to this Trotsky concluded on 3 June 1936 that Ciliga was ‘a fanatical Menshevik’ and an ultra-leftist who had come close to opportunistic positions. He was a man with whom any further cooperation was impossible (Biulleten Oppozitsii, no 51, July-August 1936). In a letter to the International Secretariat dated 22 June 1936, Trotsky outlined his personal judgement of Ciliga:
We cannot know which direction Ciliga’s political path will take in the future. Without wishing to diminish in any way the importance of his work in the field of information pure and simple, we must nevertheless be very clear about something — in matters of theory and politics he is already rather estranged from us and is essentially hostile towards us, judging from all he’s writing now… we must therefore conclude not only that Ciliga is not a Bolshevik-Leninist (at any rate, he himself does not consider himself as one), but also that he is not a Marxist either. Until 1929, he was a Stalinist intellectual, just like all the others we can find all over the world: semi-liberal in his thinking, humanitarian, yes, idealist and certainly very honest for his kind, but nevertheless entirely incapable of understanding Marxism and the laws of proletarian revolution. During Stalin’s twisting and turning in 1928-29, his intellectual honesty brought him into opposition with the official course and closer to us. Suddenly he discovered that the Bolshevik-Leninists had predicted all along what was happening and they had even already anticipated a series of political measures. But this discovery was not enough for Ciliga to change his vision of things. Even in political confinement, he remained what he had always been: an idealist and fanatical democrat who, from being a Stalinist has gone on to become an anti-Stalinist, but not a Marxist. All of a sudden he felt himself to be on our left, just because he denied the Soviet Union any progressive nature altogether and considered it to be on par with any other exploiting state. However, his leftism was not to be really tested until he went abroad. He then began to defend the position according to which we should have also defended persecuted and terrified Mensheviks in the Mensheviks’ paper, from where he is enlightening us, that is, he’s criticising us, but now on a political basis as well.
Before he made this turn, I pointed out to him that his cooperation with the Mensheviks would have automatically prevented any cooperation with us. He answered me with a theoretical letter, long and very confused, which essentially said: since you recognise the need for a common struggle with the Social Democrats against the fascists, why could you not ally yourselves with the Russian Mensheviks against Stalin? What we have here is a classic example, showing how leftist formalism leads to the swamp of the worst kind of opportunism. Parliamentary democracy, with its Blums, really represents the lesser evil — albeit for a brief period of time — compared with fascism, and we are ready, if need be, to defend this lesser evil together with the Social Democrats. But democratic and petit-bourgeois Menshevism is by no means the lesser evil compared with the Stalinised Soviet state, a state that we still hope to lead toward Socialism through our ruthless struggle against the Soviet bureaucracy.
The second big difference is one which is closely linked with the first, and lies in the fact that in many capitalist countries Social Democracy is truly a mass party, and we must reckon with it as a reality. A united front with Dan against Stalin would only reveal Ciliga’s strong leanings towards Menshevism (and also, by the way, towards anarchism, which as we know, is nothing more than liberalism pushed to the extreme). In reality, just like a large number of foreign Stalinists, Ciliga was essentially a fanatical Menshevik. Now the fanaticism is gone, but the Menshevism remains.
We shall not publish any more articles by Ciliga in the Russian Biulleten, since we cannot afford to give Stalin’s bureaucracy the splendid gift of discrediting ourselves with our own actions, by having joint collaboration with the Mensheviks. Naturally, Stalinists will try and exploit this fact to belittle Ciliga’s revelations. For our part, we have never looked up to him as an authority, either for theory or for practice. And as for the facts he has made public, they nevertheless keep their value.
Clearly, I do not have the presumption to give a definitive judgement on Ciliga and his future. If, through his new experience, he should succeed to come over to Marxism and therefore really come closer to us, we would naturally only be too happy, and we mean this sincerely. Each of us would do his utmost to favour such a development. But his conversion must necessarily begin, for reasons of principle, with his own renunciation of any cooperation with the Mensheviks. This cooperation is doubly criminal at a time when the French friends of the Russian Mensheviks are in power, when they confiscate our paper and persecute our comrades. Ciliga really cannot understand that the Bolshevik-Leninists are not persecuted by Stalin alone, but also by the Mensheviks of the entire world, and that this would be even more so in the event of a war.
Ciliga’s political career after that point demonstrated just how correct Trotsky had been. After having moved closer to the Mensheviks through ultra-leftism, during the Second World War he returned to Croatia, where he was arrested and condemned to death. Once freed, he cooperated with pro-Western bourgeois groups, as by then he had come to openly Social Democratic positions. After the war, he lived in Paris and Rome, where he continued his shift to the right.
Today he is the only survivor of the small Yugoslav Trotskyist group who, over half a century ago, threw down the gauntlet to the bureaucratic Leviathan. What became of Dragić, of Heberling, of Dedić? And what was the fate of the Russians, Zankov and Glibovsky? We have no way of knowing. However, one does not need much imagination to guess: they most probably fell victim to the wave of terror unleashed by Stalin in 1936-38, perhaps killed by a firing squad in the Siberian tundra, or liquidated with a single bullet to the head in the cellars of the GPU. This was the tragic epilogue of the first Left Opposition to appear historically in Yugoslavia.
H H H
T the end of the summer of 1935, when, after spending three years in the Soviet Union’s central political prison at Verkhne-Uralsk, and two further years in exile in Siberia, I was fighting my desperate battle to leave the country, I received two postcards with the latest news from an old militant in our Yugoslav opposition group in Moscow, Heberling, who too had shortly before been deported to Siberia. From Heberling’s communications it appeared that Josip Broz Tito’s wife, Pelagea Denisova Belousova, a supporter of our opposition group, had been arrested, and had subsequently died in prison.
What did these words ‘died in prison’ mean? Had she died of natural causes, from hardship and hunger? Had she committed suicide? Or had she perhaps been sentenced to death and then executed? Moreover, these communications from Heberling did not contain other essential details, such as the circumstances in which Belousova had been discovered and arrested by the GPU. Later, the interruption of my correspondence with Heberling prevented me from learning the precise sequence of events in this matter.
Belousova arrived at the Moscow School of the Yugoslav Communist Party in the spring of 1929, and she soon became a supporter of our opposition group. For special reasons, and following our advice, she adhered clandestinely to our group, whereas in public she continued to support the official line and condemn our positions the better to carry out her work. In 1929-30, she kept in contact with our new Leningrad centre through secret correspondence. Belousova was not the first Yugoslav Communist to face arrest in Russia at the hands of Stalin’s police. Five of our comrades at the centre had already been discovered, and were arrested in May 1930. They were immediately sentenced to three years’ imprisonment. However, she was the first comrade of ours to die in Stalin’s prisons.
Tito’s wife was arrested in the winter of 1934-35, or, to be more precise, at the beginning of 1935 (clearly, because it was such a recent event, Heberling did not feel it necessary to point it out in the summer of 1935). She was arrested at the same time as Tito, who, after spending five years in prison in Yugoslavia, was in Moscow as the second representative of the Yugoslav Communist Party to the Comintern (the first representative at that time being Vladimir Čopić, who would become a hero in the Spanish Civil War, and then a victim of the Moscow purges). Belousova was living with Tito at the House of the Comintern (formerly the Hotel Lux), and it was there where she was arrested by the GPU at night, in the presence of her husband, who did not dare lift a finger in her defence. Her arrest put Tito in an extremely difficult position, as he felt that he would be suspected of having Trotskyist sympathies. For three long years, due to the GPU’s distrust of him, Tito remained suspended between life and death. It should not surprise us that when talking in April 1959 — a not inconsiderable delay! — of this aspect of his stay in Moscow during 1935-38 (but nonetheless keeping silent about the arrest and subsequent death of his wife), Tito stated: ‘Those were the most painful days of my entire life. Even in the war, things were easier: at least one knew where the enemy was.’ (Interview in the Belgrade Kommunist, 16 April 1959)
After 1948 and the KPJ’s split from the Cominform, the world press often speculated on the suspicions of Stalin and the GPU towards Tito’s supposed Trotskyism, but without ever being able to confirm their veracity. During his interview, Tito revealed that Petko Miletić, a Communist from Montenegro who enjoyed great popularity within the KPJ, arrived in Moscow directly from Yugoslavia at the start of 1938, with the aim — in Tito’s exact words — of accusing him of having Trotskyist tendencies. (And, in our opinion, to oppose and defeat him in his struggle for the leadership of the KPJ following the purging, arrest and disappearance of Gorkić. But more on this point later.) However, Tito did not disclose the basis on which Miletić attempted to justify his accusation.
In 1929, Miletić was in Moscow, at the KPJ’s school (where I taught), and he shared most of our oppositional policies. He knew nearly all our secrets, and he also knew of the relations existing between Tito’s wife and Stanko Dragić, who managed our opposition centre, and was the former secretary of the local party committee in Zagreb.
However, Miletić did not want to accept our conclusions, and he refused to engage in concrete and practical oppositional activities, but merely argued that we should uphold our views, and not blindly follow the Russians in everything they did. He maintained that we should be suspicious of some of their ways and demands, while at the same time doing our best to hide this from the Soviet authorities at all times. This tactic was later implemented with great success by Tito, when — after the Second World War — he quietly began to prepare the ground for this open rebellion against the Kremlin. For his part, Miletić — that very same Miletić who in the ballot held in 1929 at the Moscow School on the question of the discussion on Yugoslavia in the Comintern, refrained from taking part in the meeting, saying to his friend Stanko Dragić: ‘My friends, I really do not see why I should end up in Siberia with the rest of you!’ — nonetheless did end up in Siberia, in 1938, in the Kolyma concentration camp. That Tito should only decide to reveal these facts three years after the famous ‘Secret Speech’ presented by Khrushchev to the Twentieth Congress of the Soviet Communist Party, when all other Communist parties had already been briefed on Stalin’s errors, that Tito should be the last of the leaders of the international Communist movement to condemn the purges of the past and to rehabilitate, albeit only partly, the victims of these purges, demonstrates beyond doubt that some unknown and mysterious link is to be found between the purges which took place in the KPJ in 1937-38 and the success of Tito’s career.
Even more mysterious and strange, however, is the silence which Tito has tightly kept until today about Stalin’s hand in the arrest and death in prison of his wife, Pelagea Belousova. In Vladimir Dedijer’s biography of Tito, we only read of Belousova in respect of her arrival in Croatia and her marriage to Tito. In the Yugoslav edition of the same biography, however, we learn that Tito’s first wife was in Russia when he was detained in Sremska Mitrovica in Yugoslavia, but there are no further details on her future fate.
Today, in an attempt to cover up the cynical manoeuvring behind his first successful career move in 1927-28 and the second and definitive one in 1937-38, Tito is forced to leave in the shadows the question of the real relationship existing between the Soviet and the Yugoslav Communist Parties, and that of the purges in the KPJ, directed against a very large number of Yugoslav militants — 40 in the little purge from 1929 to 1935 alone, including Tito’s wife, and all the others in the great purge of 1937-38.
In Russia, 1927 was the turning point in the struggle between Stalin and Bukharin’s centre-right block and Trotsky and Zinoviev’s centre-left block. After defeating and expelling Trotsky and Zinoviev from the party, the victorious faction shared out the instruments of power among themselves; Stalin got the party, Bukharin the Comintern, and Rykov was made President. Bukharin, as the leader of the Comintern, was given a free hand in all issues concerning its policies, as Stalin was too busy at the time gearing up to taking power in the country. At this point, the various Communist parties that accepted Bukharin’s line were obliged to accept the policies and the hegemony of the Soviet Union.
Meanwhile in Yugoslavia, 1927 marked the beginning of a new and deep crisis for the regime and the state itself, with the birth of an opposition led by Radić of the Croatian Peasant Party and Pribičević of the Croatian Serbian Independent Party against Belgrade and Serbian rule.
The relatively peaceful years of 1925-26 were thus finally over, and this had serious consequences on the internal structure of the KPJ, which until then had been a semi-illegal organisation. The centre-right block led by Sima Marković and the Croatian-Slovenian trade unionists Salaj and Žorga, who had been put in power by the Comintern during the Third Congress of the KPJ in the summer of 1926, rapidly collapsed. Sima Marković, the spokesman for the Serbian nationalist tendency, was dismissed from his post. The trade unionists of the centre merged with the left headed by Djuro Cvijić, and in the autumn of 1927 the Central Committee elected Cvijić to the post of the political secretary of the Politbureau, in place of Marković.
The stronghold of the anti-factionist and anti-intellectualist tendency was the Zagreb party organisation that was established by Stanko Dragić, who at the time was living in Moscow, and was replaced by Anton Mavrak, which gave its complete support to this move. All this took place without any previous consultations with Moscow, and went against Bukharin’s line, which was prevailing at this point. In the meantime, in Moscow a new conflict was emerging between Stalin and Bukharin, and for this reason the latter was particularly keen to secure his position within the Comintern against the possibility of any Communist parties slipping to left-wing positions. Bukharin was quick to spot in Milan Gorkić (whose real name was Josip Čižinsky, having been born in Bosnia of Czech parents), the second secretary of the Young Communist International who belonged to the group of young Bukharinists, a valuable ally for a new Yugoslav operation. The centre-left-oriented Central Committee of the KPJ was to be disbanded, but it was still impossible to reinstate Sima Marković as secretary, for by then he had compromised himself too much. Moreover, he tended to be too independent. It was then proposed to organise a Russian group and send them to Yugoslavia in order to take over the KPJ and overthrow the centre-left committee. This group included many former prisoners-of-war from the long since disbanded Austro-Hungarian army, American émigrés of Yugoslav descent and young Yugoslavs from a solid Bolshevik background, not to mention all manner of opportunists and careerists.
Gorkić was a hard-working, diligent and very scrupulous man, but he had poor organisational skills, and did not know his men well. These negative traits compromised him greatly in 1928-29, and brought about his final demise in 1937-38, as we shall see.
Although this operation had been painstakingly prepared, Bukharin and Gorkić thought it would be proper and advantageous to give their manoeuvre a spontaneous and democratic colouring. For this reason, the centre-left Central Committee of the KPJ was not immediately disbanded, and initially not all the ‘Soviet-made’ group were sent to Yugoslavia. Rather, at first only some carefully chosen people were sent, whose aim it was to persuade certain local branches of the party in Yugoslavia — above all, the Zagreb branch — to call for the intervention and the help of the Comintern in the internal running of the KPJ.
The first person to be sent from Moscow (where he had attended the courses organised by the Comintern) to Zagreb was Djuro Djaković, a metalworker of Croatian origin and of sound moral standing. Djaković was to be the leader of the operation, while officially he was merely known as the secretary of the Union of Metalworkers. His deputy was Mathias Brezović, formerly a prisoner-of-war from the Austro-Hungarian army in Russia, who had been made party secretary with responsibility for Croatia (he subsequently became a spy for the Yugoslav police). For Vienna, a former primary school teacher from Montenegro was sent, Jovan Mališić, also known as Martinović, who at that time was completing a course at the Tomachev political and military academy in Leningrad. On his arrival in Vienna, Mališić was to act as a liaison officer between Gorkić, who had stayed back in Moscow, and Djaković, now operating from Zagreb. Another militant who was engaged in this operation was Josip Broz, who was now known as Tito and who had returned to Yugoslavia from Russia two years earlier, during the summer of 1925, and not in 1920, as he erroneously claims. He was the last of a group of foreigners who had fought in the ranks of the Red Army during the Civil War, and who were demobilised between 1923 and 1925. It was soon clear that Broz, who had been discovered and profitably used on the scene by Djaković, was a very valuable and highly capable acquisition. While in the main the party committee in Zagreb categorically refused to accept the suggestions offered by the Comintern, Josip Broz, despite only being endorsed by a small minority of this committee, managed nonetheless to have these suggestions accepted during a specially convened conference in Zagreb in February 1928.
In this way, Josip Broz’s proposal that the Comintern’s intervention be sought in the internal proceedings of the KPJ was adopted by the party organisation in Zagreb, and Broz himself became the new secretary of this organisation.
In May 1928, the Comintern, graciously accepting this spontaneous request by the KPJ, wrote an Open Letter to the party, officially dissolved the centre-left leadership of the party and appointed an interim leadership headed by Djaković, whose task it was to prepare a party congress.
Even now Tito maintains that this sham was a truly spontaneous initiative coming from the party grassroots. We, however, can prove convincingly that it was a manoeuvre that was carefully planned and monitored from Moscow.
However, the course of things changed radically because of two unforeseeable events; firstly, the attempt on Radić’s life in June 1928, and later the abolition of the constitution and all political liberties by King Alexander in January 1929. The assassination attempt in the Belgrade parliament showed beyond a shadow of a doubt the high point of the conflict between Serbs and Croats in the country. It was clear, therefore, that neither Moscow nor its group could ignore the existence of this conflict, or at any rate avoid considering it. A change of line was quickly implemented at the top level of the Comintern, and instead of social struggle the term national conflict began to be commonly heard. Then a party Military Committee was set up, and Josip Broz was appointed as its leader.
This committee began to gather large numbers of weapons, in partnership with the Hungarian refugees from Béla Kun’s Soviet republic and Radić’s party’s youth organisation. The victory of a Communist revolution resulting from the Croats’ national revolt against great-Serbian Yugoslavia was considered to be a certainty.
Thanks to the information provided by Mathias Brezović and several other provocateurs who had infiltrated the party, however, the police were always kept fully informed of these preparations for a planned ambush on 1 August 1928, and the man who would later become the Yugoslav Head of State was condemned to a five-year prison sentence.
On 6 January 1929, King Alexander proclaimed his personal dictatorship with the help of the army, which was controlled by Serbian officers, and the police. The Communist Party was offered an ultimatum thinly disguised as a compromise: if you limit yourself to the social question, staying well clear of the Serbo-Croat and Serbo-Macedonian conflicts, then we’ll leave you in peace and you may continue your activities. Otherwise we will destroy you. Clearly, the KPJ could not possibly accept this compromise, and after its refusal of these terms it became the victim of relentless persecution. Djaković was immediately killed, only to be followed by dozens, and then hundreds of Communists who met their deaths, or were thrown into the Yugoslav prisons. Broz’s luck was that he had been arrested and sentenced prior to 6 January 1929, and he enjoyed a somewhat privileged treatment whilst being held in Lepoglava prison. As the prison electrician, he could leave the prison freely and visit the city, and like the charmeur des femmes that he was, he enjoyed the good life. However, when Moshe Pijade and Rodoljub Čolaković set up a party school in the prison, it did not prevent him from becoming one of its most serious and assiduous students.
Josip Broz used to get up at four o’clock every day, and from his cell he patiently learned the lessons given to him by his teachers.
After 6 January, Gorkić’s group became totally bankrupt, proving that it was comprised of cowards, incompetents and traitors. The KPJ school in Moscow, which had since the very beginning expressed its disagreement with the Bukharin-Gorkić operation, was seized by the fervour of revolt, and a small group of Yugoslav comrades who had long been in contact with the Russian Trotskyist opposition in Moscow played an active rôle in turning it into an open and final revolt. The report presented by the Comintern delegate was rejected by the school’s general assembly, with 90 voting against and just five voting in favour.
As at that time the struggle between Stalin and Bukharin was already beginning to emerge, our opposition to Gorkić (and hence to Bukharin) would surely have been tolerated, but because this opposition contained a Trotskyist component — and hence an anti-Stalin, as well as an anti-Bukharin, trend — three students were expelled from the party for a year, while 90 others had to leave the school and the city of Moscow.
In the resolution entitled Lessons of 1929-31 put forward at the Fourth Conference of the KPJ which was held in Ljubljana in December 1934, the revolt by the comrades of the party school in Moscow was presented and condemned in these terms:
… alongside the very best workers like Djuro Djaković, a number of comrades who had little or no links with the party, who did not grow from within the party but were educated outside party life, were elected. The Central Committee did not bother to provide the right conditions for an organic union between the supporters who studied in the party schools in Moscow and those who were engaged in daily practical work in Yugoslavia. For this reason, the leadership alienated the best elements of the party, both abroad and in Yugoslavia, and a large number of comrades truly dedicated to the party lost their lives abroad through serious errors of political judgement, falling in the trap prepared by the Trotskyists Ciliga and Dragić… (KPJ Historical Archive, Volume 2, Belgrade, 1950, pp235-6)
After Josip Broz’s sentencing in Zagreb and transfer to Lepoglava prison, Pelagea Belousova left Zagreb with Žarko, the couple’s young son, and took refuge in Moscow. She arrived at the party school before we were removed, but after the notorious general assembly, and during the inquest initiated by the Russian Central Committee against us. What motivated her to associate herself with us, in opposition to the Russian party’s policy and the Comintern’s line in Yugoslavia, which after all was the very same line that was accepted and adopted by her husband?
By the spring of 1929, no one was in any doubt whatsoever that the policies of Gorkić and the Comintern for Yugoslavia had been an absolute disaster, and Belousova fully accepted our opinion that the KPJ had been deceived by the Comintern.
Furthermore, at that time, well before the KPJ came to the same conclusions, we had uncovered Mathias Brezović’s rôles as a spy and provocateur, and as Gorkić’s leading man in Yugoslavia. It was Stanko Dragić who came to realise this disconcerting fact, when, together with Broz’s wife, he examined all the details relating to the arrest of Broz and many other Communist militants. Upon her return from Russia, Belousova saw with her own eyes the social and political situation both within and outside our party, and she was finally convinced by our criticisms and our oppositional line. Two weeks after her arrival, she went to Omsk to visit her father, an old Bolshevik worker from St Petersburg, who had been exiled to Siberia by the Tsar. It is quite possible that it was thanks to this old-guard militant that Belousova moved over to our positions, and we must also remember that her father had been leader of the Omsk railway industries, where Josip Broz worked when he was a prisoner-of-war, and that it was he who had won him over to the Communist cause. In fact, until then, not only during the war but until the winter of 1919-20, Broz had remained very faithful to Austria, the Emperor and his grade of feldwebel (sergeant).
But when Belousova finally saw Broz again and was reunited with her husband after five long years, to what extent did she inform him of her new political position?
Broz began to scale the party hierarchy in 1927-28, using Bukharin’s policies as his basis, which at this point were still tolerated by Stalin.
In 1934-35, Bukharin was locked in a strenuous and desperate struggle with Stalin. Broz’s conservative outlook prior to his support for Communism could be interpreted as further proof of his reservations and perplexities toward the storm unleashed by Stalin. When he talked about his negative impressions of one of his journeys to the Urals in 1935, this could be seen as an allusion to information received by his old father-in-law and teacher, Belousova’s father, or even a sign of some melancholy thoughts about this old and faithful Bolshevik, a victim of Stalin’s purges…
But by 1935 Bukharin had already lost the battle, and Broz was not a man to support lost causes. Ambitious, career-oriented, a lover of the good life and above all a brilliant man, unscrupulous and strong-willed, Broz was not the man to accept his wife’s new political positions, which were the positions of a group which had already effectively been defeated. For Broz, a real thermidorian character, it was logical and natural to be a terrorist in times of terrorism, an opportunist in opportunistic times, and maybe a royalist during the restoration. So, not only did he not even think about sharing his wife’s opinions, he managed to suffer no harm from her arrest.
In August 1934, Broz was coopted onto the KPJ’s Politbureau, which at that time included Gorkić, Horvatin, Čopić, Parović, Muk and Oskar, a Slovenian worker of whom nothing else is known. Afterwards, Broz left for Yugoslavia, where he convened the local and provincial conferences for the party’s organisations in Croatia and Slovenia. Upon King Alexander’s assassination in Marseilles on 9 October 1934, Broz returned to Vienna, where he prepared the KPJ’s national conference, to be held the following December in Ljubljana. In July 1935, during the Seventh Congress of the Comintern, the Yugoslav delegates proposed to appoint Broz as the KPJ’s representative on the Comintern’s Executive Committee. This proposal, however, was rejected by Manuilsky, who stated that only Gorkić enjoyed the full confidence of the Russian party and the Comintern. But Gorkić did not receive the unanimous backing of the Yugoslav delegates, and for this reason the KPJ did not have any representative on the Comintern’s Executive Committee, but only a temporary member — Manuilsky’s candidate, Gorkić. Faced with these circumstances, Broz ran to the Russians and explained that he knew absolutely nothing of the Yugoslav delegates’ intention to propose him instead of Gorkić.
H H H
Let us now return to the interview given by Tito to the Belgrade Kommunist in April 1959, in which he talks of the purges suffered by the Yugoslav Communist émigrés in Moscow during the years of Stalin’s great terror.
Contrary to Aleksander Ranković’s organisational report to the Fifth Congress of the KPJ, held in Belgrade in July 1948 after the excommunication by the Cominform, which unanimously backed the purges directed by Stalin against the Yugoslav leadership, in his statements Tito rehabilitated some of the Yugoslav Communists who were liquidated in Moscow during those years. Nevertheless, his interview remained incomplete in places, and the details which he left out were by no means minor. Our aim in this essay will be to fill up these gaps — which are in no way unintentional or accidental — starting from the fate of Milan Gorkić.
The fall from grace of the Secretary of the KPJ’s Central Committee occurred in the summer of 1937, and this was the moment when the Yugoslav Communist leadership was taken over by Tito. Contrary to common wisdom, practical reasons, not any ideological or political motives, lay behind the liquidation of Gorkić. Gorkić was highly trusted by Moscow, and was renowned for his blind and fanatical obedience to his Kremlin masters, whoever they were. Moreover, Gorkić had just organised on behalf of the Comintern the departure of a ship which was due to sail from Marseilles to the Bocche di Cattaro in order to embark and later to transfer to Spain — by then in the midst of the civil war — about a thousand Yugoslav Communists to strengthen the ranks of the International Brigades. What happened, however, was that Gorkić’s trusted man Muk, a member of the Yugoslav Politbureau, was arrested by the Belgrade police, and revealed under torture all the details of the operation. As it was about to set sail from the Bocche di Cattaro, the ship was stormed by the police, and all the volunteers on board were arrested. The whole operation, which had cost Moscow over 700 000 francs, ended in failure. Gorkić was blamed for this botched job, and he was immediately recalled to Moscow, arrested and unjustly accused of espionage. Gorkić’s ex-wife was already an inmate of the Moscow prisons. A former clerk in the technical department of the Comintern, and later director of Moscow’s Culture Park, Betty Glan was a Russian Jew from Kiev who married an English citizen after her divorce from Gorkić, and for this reason was accused of being a spy in the pay of the British.
After divorcing his first wife, Gorkić married a Polish Jew in Paris, an official of the NKVD, who then persuaded him to return to Moscow in compliance with Russian instructions. This same woman reappeared in Paris after the Second World War as a clerk in the Soviet Embassy, and had seemingly retained her position as an NKVD official. Although Gorkić was out of the way for good, Tito did not take his place immediately, and for a few months a ruthless struggle for succession ensued between him and Petko Miletić. As soon as Miletić learned of Gorkić’s recall to Moscow, he guessed what this was really about and rushed to Paris, where he obtained from the Comintern Balkan Secretariat the authorisation to manage the day-to-day affairs of the KPJ until the Comintern took its final decision. In the same period, Miletić, having served his sentence in Yugoslavia, reached Moscow through Bulgaria and Constantinople, and in his 1959 interview in Kommunist Tito states that Miletić’s extradition was prepared and organised by ‘some Bulgarians of the Comintern Cadre Section’. At that time, in fact, the Bulgarians supported the left wing of the KPJ, and hence also supported Miletić, the unquestioned leader of the left. For this reason, they helped Miletić reach Moscow, so that he might become Gorkić’s successor.
Within the highly influential Bulgarian group established in Moscow at the time, Tito could only find two friends, Dimitrov and Karaivanov. The latter was working in the Cadre Section of the Comintern Secretariat for the Balkans, and after 1945 he settled in Belgrade, as a guest of the Yugoslav government, where he remained until his death in 1960. In one of his articles published in the Belgrade magazine International Politics on 16 May 1952 to mark Tito’s sixtieth birthday, Karaivanov gives crucial clarification on the struggle between Tito and Miletić for the succession to the post of the KPJ’s Secretary:
Damianov, a Bulgarian who was then the leader of the Comintern’s Cadre Section, together with another Bulgarian woman, Stella Blagoeva (head of the Cadre Section of the Comintern’s Secretariat for the Balkans), organised Petko Miletić’s journey from Constantinople to Moscow with the clear aim of obtaining through Miletić certain material to implicate Tito. At that time, Miletić incessantly spread lies and slanders against Tito, to the point that he even claimed that Tito was not a genuine member of the KPJ.
In Karaivanov’s article, therefore, we find confirmation of the support granted to Miletić by the Bulgarians in the Cadre Section of the Comintern, and also that they even tried to use him in an attempt to liquidate Tito.
Evidently, however, their protection was not sufficient for Miletić. Shortly afterwards, Tito went to Moscow to reply to his accusations. Contrary to Karaivanov’s earlier statements, in his interview in Kommunist in 1959 Tito tried to play down the importance of the support enjoyed in Moscow by his rival thanks to the Bulgarians, and actually explained that Miletić himself had been discovered by the NKVD to be a spy and a traitor, even before he arrived in Moscow from Constantinople. This is Tito’s version of events:
… as soon as I arrived in Moscow, a Russian who was heading the Cadre Section of the Comintern informed me that Miletić was spreading lies against me, and that, among other things, he was accusing me of being a Trotskyist. This Russian emphasised with a smile that I should not worry, since they knew very well what the truth was. The next day, the same man informed me that Miletić had been arrested; the NKVD was aware of his capitulation to the Yugoslav police immediately after they had arrested him.
Karaivanov’s version of Miletić’s arrest by the NKVD differs markedly from Tito’s. According to Karaivanov, after Damianov and Blagoeva obtained the material implicating Tito, they decided to send him to the Crimea, as a gesture of thanks, for a long period of rest. Afterwards, they would make the necessary arrangements to assign him great responsibilities. During the night, however, on the eve of his departure for the Crimea, Miletić was arrested by the NKVD and deported to Siberia, to the notorious forced labour camp in Kolyma. We know nothing of his fate after this point, nor of Milan Gorkić’s whereabouts.
There is another discrepancy between Karaivanov’s statements in 1952 and Tito’s interview in 1959. Karaivanov says that the Cadre Section of the Comintern was headed by the Bulgarian Damianov at that time, while Tito claims that it was a Russian, although he does not reveal his name.
It seems pointless now to reiterate that the accusations for which Petko Miletić was arrested by the NKVD — accusations which were repeated and supported by Tito in his interview in Kommunist in 1959 — were ridiculous and unfounded. Miletić, who had returned to Yugoslavia in 1930 after his stay in Moscow, behaved so heroically, both in his undercover activities for the party, and in resisting police interrogation after his arrest, that he even acquired the traits of a legendary character. When he fell into the hands of the police, his popularity was so high that the Comintern felt it necessary to initiate a campaign for his release in the world-wide Communist press. Miletić was sent to Sremska prison to begin his sentence, but soon became the undisputed leader of the other Communist inmates there (a group which included a number of high-powered militants, such as Moshe Pijade and Aleksander Ranković). At the start of the Spanish Civil War, the Yugoslav battalion included in its name that of Petko Miletić.
After Miletić was despatched to Kolyma in February 1938, Tito was appointed General Secretary of the KPJ. Stalin and Manuilsky were of the opinion that the KPJ had to be dissolved, along the lines of the Polish Communist Party, but Dimitrov convinced them that they should try an experiment with Tito. When he became party Secretary, Tito took immediate care to ‘Bolshevise’ the KPJ — that is to say, to Stalinise it — by the purging of all those elements who did not have sufficiently close ties with Moscow. Upon his departure for Paris, he began by liquidating the Kusovac-Marić opposition group, which had too close a relationship with Miletić (Marić was persecuted in Yugoslavia even after 1945). Later, after returning to Yugoslavia, Tito spent the entire year of 1938 preparing his purge down to the smallest detail. In January 1939, he made the new Yugoslav Politbureau (which he himself established by virtue of the full powers granted to him by Moscow) endorse the purge arrangements that he himself had prepared. He then left for Moscow, where he obtained the Comintern’s final approval and then publicly announced the results of his campaign of purges, presenting them in the pages of Proleter, the official KPJ paper, in May 1939.
We reproduce below the details published by Proleter, which as we have noted above, Ranković used in his report to the Fifth KPJ Congress:
… due to their destructive and anti-party activities, to the formation of groups, to their attempts to inflame factional conflicts in the KPJ, bring confusion into the ranks of the party abroad and in our country and spread false rumours abroad, due to their relations with Trotskyist elements and other suspicious individuals, the following persons are hereby expelled from the KPJ: Ivo Marić, Maria Marić, Labud Kusovac and his wife… Bobo (Bozić) is also hereby expelled for being an alien and anti-party element. IN [Ivo Baljkas — Jacques] is expelled for forming illegal groups within the party and for his anti-party activities, for maintaining close links with Trotskyist elements and for disclosing party secrets to them; VJ [Vicko Jelaska — Starj] is hereby expelled due to his indiscipline, the formation of illegal groups and his refusal to comply with party decisions; as a suspicious and alien element, MC [Mladen Čopić] is also hereby expelled…
For their rôle as elements who have inflicted enormous damage for many years upon our party and upon the working class, due to their factional conflicts and links with the class enemy; as elements who deceived the Comintern and who, through their work of sabotage, have prevented the development of the party and hence deprived the Yugoslav working class of its own most efficient guide, the following individuals are hereby expelled from the ranks of the KPJ: Milan Gorkić [Josip Čižinsky], Flajšer [Ivan Gržetić], Sima Marković, Sima Miljuš, Anton Mavrak, Djuro Cvijić [Kresić], Stjepan Cvijić [Andrej], Kamilo Horvatin [Petrovsky], Vladimir Čopić [Senjko], Jovan Mališić [Martinović], Kosta Novaković [Dragačevaz], Akif Seremet [Berger], Jovanka Horvatin [Graberica], Zora Miljuš, Grgur Vujović, M Janković [Drenovskj], Vilem Horvat [Schwartzmann], Gojko Sammardzić [Schwartz], Rada Vujović [Liht]…
Due to his attempts to create factions within the party, his indiscipline and refusal to comply with party decisions, his lack of sincerity before the Central Committee, for bringing confusion to the ranks of the party, for displaying the attitude of a traitor before the class enemy — deceiving not just the KPJ but the working class as a whole — Petko Miletić is hereby expelled from the party. Due to their factionalism, indiscipline and anti-party activities, Vojnilović and Korskj are also hereby expelled from the KPJ.
This list does not mention — above all — our opposition group of 1928-29, that is to say, about 20 people of whom I think I am the sole survivor. Other quite important individual cases are missing from the list, such as Filipović-Bošković, the official representative of the KPJ in Moscow, and later in Vienna and Berlin, and also Voja Vujović, the Secretary of the Communist Youth International in the Zinoviev period. Both were expelled by the KPJ and then disappeared forever under circumstances which are still to be determined.
Who were the 30 people purged by Tito immediately after he became Secretary of the KPJ, and whose names appeared in Proleter in May 1939? Some of them were former party Secretaries or members of the Politbureau, while others were members of the Central Committee. In short, they were more or less the entire leadership of the party, among which we find no less than five former Secretaries of the KPJ: Sima Marković, Djuro Cvijić, Jovan Mališić, Anton Mavrak and Milan Gorkić. The only former Secretary of the party who escaped expulsion, and hence physical liquidation, was Triša Kazlerović, who retired from politics in the summer of 1926.
Of these 30 people, 16 were certainly killed in Russia by Stalin’s secret police. As for the fate of Sima Marković, the leader of the KPJ’s right wing, unconfirmed reports state that he died of natural causes in a small provincial town in the European part of Russia, where he had been sent in exile and given the opportunity to teach at a secondary school. His widow left the Soviet Union after 1945 and returned to Yugoslavia, where she was readmitted to the party. In 1948, with the breaking of relations between the Cominform and the KPJ, she took firm pro-Soviet positions, and because of this she was arrested by Tito’s police and deported to the Goli and Sveti Grgur Islands, where a concentration camp for the Yugoslav supporters of the Cominform had been established.
Of the 30 people expelled from the party and mentioned in the notice published in Proleter, 11 belonged to the group of the historical left, whereas 14 were part of the centre-left group which allied itself with the historical left between 1923 and 1937. One other person belonged to the centre-right, while another was from the historical right. It is difficult to pinpoint their precise political positions within the KPJ, but it is beyond doubt that Tito and the Russians struck heavily and almost indiscriminately against the left groups, while hardly disturbing the right groups. It should also be remembered that the leader of the right, Sima Marković, despite being among the victims of the purge, was not physically killed off like the left militants, and that no disciplinary action was taken against his wife, contrary to what happened to the wives of the representatives of the left, who were all expelled along with their husbands.
In articles appearing in Proleter and in other party official documents from 1937 to 1941, reference is often made to the Yugoslav Trotskyists. In reality, however, save for our opposition group at the party school in Moscow in 1928-29, which was the only group that could vaguely be accused of Trotskyism, there never were any active Trotskyist elements in the KPJ, and certainly no organised Trotskyist groups of any kind. The famous Darsula, for example, often referred to in party official documents as a Trotskyist, was in fact a young Dalmatian belonging to the historical left who attended the party school in Moscow. What happened was that all those who, in the name of proletarian internationalism, opposed great-Serbian nationalist infiltrators within the party, were erroneously labelled as Trotskyists, and were consequently expelled for this reason.
. Ciliga died in 1992.
. Pelagea Denisova Belousova, a Russian, popularly known as Polka, sheltered Tito, then using his family name of Josip Broz, from Kolchak’s White forces in Omsk in early 1919. They married in the same year.
. Vladimir Čopić (1891-1939), from Croatia, was a prisoner of war in Russia, and joined the KPJ at its foundation in 1919, becoming its organisational secretary. Along with Djuro Cvijić, Triša Kaclerović, Rajko Jovanović and Kosta Novaković, he led the left-wing faction that favoured a federal solution for Yugoslavia and supported non-Serb national movements, and which took control of the KPJ in 1924. He was in Spain during the Civil War, and was purged when he returned to the Soviet Union in 1938.
. Petko Miletić (1897-1939), a Montenegrin, took part in the Hungarian Revolution in 1919, and later joined the KPJ, joining the Central Committee in 1930 and later the Political Bureau. Whilst in prison, he had a reputation for thuggery against fellow KPJ prisoners with whom he disagreed. Removed from the KPJ leadership by Tito in 1937, he was arrested in the Soviet Union in 1939 and disappeared.
. Milan Gorkić (Josip Čižinsky, 1904-1939), born in Bosnia of Ruthenian parents, joined the KPJ at its foundation in 1919, and joined the Executive Committee of the Communist Youth International in 1924. He became the General Secretary of the KPJ in 1934, went to Moscow in 1937, and was purged. It was under his stewardship that the KPJ swung to support a unitary position in respect of the Yugoslav state. From the mid-1920s, the Soviet government had been advocating the break-up of Yugoslavia into its constituent national parts in order to weaken the French-led Little Entente, but by the mid-1930s it had come to favour the country’s integrity as part of its anti-German foreign policy.
. Vladimir Dedijer (1914-1990) was from a Bosnian peasant family involved in Serb nationalist politics. A journalist, he joined the KPJ in the mid-1930s, was a courier in the Spanish Civil War, and was active in the Partisan movement during the Second World War. He joined the KPJ’s Central Committee in 1952, received a suspended prison sentence in 1955 for siding with Milovan Djilas, taught in Swedish, British and US universities during 1959-65, returned to Yugoslavia, and worked as an academic and an author.
. Stephen Radić led the Croatian Peasant Party, and Svetozar Pribičević led the Serbian Independent Party. Radić called for Yugoslavia to be a federal state, but in 1925 declared his intention to work within the unitary framework of the Yugoslav constitution, and his party joined the government. This arrangement collapsed in 1927, and he went into opposition, and was joined by the previously pro-unitary Pribičević. Radić died after being shot by a Montenegrin Radical Party deputy in the Yugoslav parliament in 1928. Pribičević went into exile in the 1930s, and died in Czechoslovakia in 1936.
. The KPJ had been badly hit by repressive state legislation introduced in 1921. Its membership fell from around 50 000 in 1920 to 688 in 1924.
. Sima Marković (1888-1938), a Serb, joined the Serbian Social Democratic Party in 1907, and became a leader of the KPJ at its foundation in 1919. He was elected a deputy in 1920, and was the KPJ General Secretary during 1920-28. Along with the other Serb Socialist veterans Lazar Stefanović and Života Milojković, he led the right-wing faction that favoured a democratic unitary Yugoslav state and opposed non-Serb national movements, and which lost control of the KPJ in 1924. Expelled from the KPJ in 1929, he rejoined in 1935. Moving to Moscow, he was purged in 1938, and was posthumously rehabilitated in 1963.
. Djuro Salaj, a Croat, joined the KPJ Central Committee in 1928. Along with Djuro Djaković and Žika Pecarski, he led the group that opposed Marković’s right-wing faction, but also accused the left-wing faction of pandering to Croatian nationalism. He was in Moscow in the mid-1930s, but escaped being purged.
. Jakob Žorga (1888-1942), a Slovenian, was a trade union activist who joined the KPJ at its foundation in 1919. He joined the Central Committee in 1923, became organisational secretary in 1928, but lost all his posts in the same year. Expelled in 1937, he was shot in a Yugoslav jail in 1942.
. Djuro Cvijić (1896-1938), a Serb from Croatia, was in the Nationalist Youth movement before 1914, then in the Croatian Socialist Party. He joined the KPJ and its Central Committee at its foundation in 1919. He became General Secretary in 1927, lost the post in 1928, went to Moscow in 1934, and was purged in 1938. He was posthumously rehabilitated in 1963.
. Anton Mavrak (1899- ), a Bosnian Croat, joined the KPJ in 1924, became organisational secretary in 1930, and General Secretary in 1931. Expelled in 1932, he was purged in the Soviet Union in 1938. He was posthumously rehabilitated in 1963.
. Djuro Djaković (1886-1929), variously described as a Serb from Croatia and a Bosnian Croat, was a trade union activist and a member of the Bosnian Social Democratic Party. He joined the KPJ at its foundation in 1919, and was elected a deputy in 1921. He was killed by the Yugoslav police in 1929.
. Jovan Mališić (1902- ), a Montenegrin, became the YCP’s political secretary in 1928, but was dismissed in 1930. Purged in the Soviet Union in 1938, he was posthumously rehabilitated in 1958.
. Both Phyllis Auty and Jasper Ridley accept that Tito returned to Yugoslavia in 1920. If so, he seems to have played little active part in party activities in the early 1920s.
. Moshe Pijade (1887-1957), a Jew, an artist and a member of the Black Hand Serbian nationalists, joined the KPJ and its Executive Committee in 1920. Jailed during 1925-39, he played a leading rôle in the wartime Partisans, and held important party and state posts after 1945, including Federal President during 1953-57.
. Rodoljub Čolaković was a former Serbian nationalist terrorist who joined the KPJ whilst in jail in 1924. He moved to the Soviet Union in 1933, but escaped being purged.
. Kamilo Horvatin, a Croat, was in the Nationalist Youth movement before 1914. He joined the KPJ at its foundation in 1919, joined its Central Committee and Political Bureau in 1934, was removed from these posts in 1936, was purged along with his wife in the Soviet Union in 1938, and was posthumously rehabilitated in 1963. Tito wrote a report on him for the Soviet authorities which neither denounced him as a Trotskyist, nor defended him from the allegation.
. Blagoje Parović (1886-1971), a Serb, was a tailor and trade union activist, and a member of the Serbian Social Democratic Party. He joined the KPJ at its foundation in 1919, joined its Central Committee and became a deputy in 1920, was expelled in 1927, and held state posts after 1945.
. Aleksander Ranković (1909-1983), a Serb, joined the KPJ in 1928, and joined its Political Bureau in the late 1930s after Tito had become General Secretary. He was the Minister for Internal Affairs during 1946-53, and was Deputy Prime Minister from 1953 to 1966, when he was removed from all official posts. He was notorious for his repressive and Serb chauvinist policies.
. According to Auty, the botched nature of the operation was not due to Adolf Muk being arrested prior to it taking place. It was very difficult to keep the converging of several hundred volunteers upon the rendezvous point from the notice of the authorities, and the ship, La Corse, was observed by the Yugoslav police when it moored near Budva in Montenegro. Muk was one of the 500 arrested when the ship was raided, and he gave much information about the KPJ’s activities to the police whilst undergoing brutal interrogation.
. Georgi Dimitrov (1882-1949) was a member of the left-wing Tesniak faction of the Bulgarian Social Democratic Party, and a founding member of the Bulgarian Communist Party (KPB) in 1919. Active in the Comintern apparatus, he became its General Secretary in 1935, and co-signed its dissolution statement in 1943. He was General Secretary of the KPB during 1945-49, and Prime Minister during 1946-49.
. Ivan Karaivanov (1889-1960) joined the Tesniak faction of the Bulgarian Social Democratic Party in 1918, and was a founding member of the KPB in 1919. He went to the Soviet Union in 1926, worked in the Comintern apparatus from 1929, settled in Yugoslavia in 1945, and held state and party posts.
. Georgi Damianov (1892-1958) joined the Tesniak faction of the Bulgarian Social Democratic Party in 1912, and was a founder member of the KPB in 1919. He went to the Soviet Union in the mid-1920s, and worked in the Comintern apparatus. He worked variously in Bulgaria, the Soviet Union and Spain, and held state and party posts in Bulgaria after 1945.
. Stella Blagoeva (1887-1954), the daughter of Dimitri Blagoev, the founder of Bulgarian socialism, was a member of the Tesniak faction of the Bulgarian Social Democratic Party, and a founding member of the KPB in 1919. She went to the Soviet Union in 1926, worked in the cadre section of the Comintern apparatus, and held state and party posts in Bulgaria after 1945.
. Ivo Marić (1894-1968), a Croat, was a leading KPJ member in Dalmatia. In 1927, Marić and his comrades Ivo Baljkas (1892-1977) and Vicko Jelaska (1892-1977) promoted electoral pacts with nationalist Croat parties. Marić was amongst the KPJ leaders who were based in Paris during the late 1930s.
. Labud Kusovac (1900- ), a Montenegrin, joined the KPJ in the 1920s, went to the Soviet Union in the 1930s, and was briefly on the KPJ Central Committee in 1938. He was amongst the KPJ leaders who were based in Paris during the late 1930s. Expelled from the KPJ in 1939 with his wife Kristina for Trotskyism, they were both jailed in Yugoslavia in 1948 for their pro-Soviet outlook.
. See note 27.
. See note 27.
. Auty refers to a Mladen Čopić who was shot in the Soviet Union in the late 1930s.
. Ivan Gržetić (1896- ), known as Flajšer, a Croat, joined the KPJ in the 1920s and its leadership in the 1930s. He was purged in the Soviet Union in 1937.
. Sima Miljuš (1894- ), a Bosnian Serb, joined the Croatian Social Democratic Party in 1918, and the KPJ at its foundation in 1919. He became a deputy in 1920, joined the Political Bureau and became organisational secretary in 1923, went to the Soviet Union, and was purged in 1938. He was posthumously rehabilitated in 1958.
. Stjepan Cvijić (1905-1938), the brother of Djuro, joined the KPJ, went to Moscow in 1924 and worked in the Communist Youth International apparatus, returned to Yugoslavia in the late 1920s, went to Spain in 1937, and returned to Moscow, where he was arrested in 1938. He was posthumously rehabilitated in 1957.
. Vladimir Čopić (1891-1939), a Croat, was a prisoner-of-war in Russia during the First World War. He joined the KPJ at its foundation in 1919, and was subsequently its organisational secretary. He was sent to Spain during the Civil War, went to Moscow in 1938, and was purged. He was posthumously rehabilitated in 1963.
. Jovan Mališić (1902- ), a Montenegrin, became political secretary of the KPJ Central Committee in 1928, but was dismissed in 1930. He was purged in the Soviet Union in 1938, and was posthumously rehabilitated in 1963.
. Kosta Novaković (1886-1938), a Serb, joined the Serbian Social Democratic Party in 1907, and joined the KPJ and its Central Committee at its foundation in 1919. He was elected a deputy in 1920, went to the Soviet Union in 1927, was purged in 1938, and was posthumously rehabilitated in 1958.
. Akif Seremet perished in the purges in the Soviet Union in the late 1930s.
. Jovanka Horvatin was one of the several women members of the KPJ who were in Moscow in the 1930s.
. Grgur Vujović (1901- ), a Serb, joined the KPJ in the 1920s, and was a Central Committee member of the Young Communists. He was purged in the Soviet Union in 1938, and was posthumously rehabilitated in 1956.
. Vilem Horvat perished in the purges in the Soviet Union in the late 1930s.
. Radomir Vujović (1897- ), brother of Grgur, joined the French Communist Party whilst at college in France, worked with the Young Communist International in Vienna, returned to Yugoslavia in 1925, joined the KPJ Central Committee in 1926, went to Moscow in 1933, and was purged in 1938.
. Filip Filipović (1878- ), a Serb, joined the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party as a student, and was later a leader of the Serbian Social Democratic Party. He joined the KPJ at its foundation in 1919, and was elected a deputy and Mayor of Belgrade. Used the pseudonyms Baum and Bošković. He went to the Soviet Union in 1924, was purged in 1937, and was posthumously rehabilitated in 1956.
. Voja Vujović (1895- ), brother of Grgur and Radomir, was General Secretary of the Communist Youth International. He sided with Zinoviev, joined the United Opposition, was expelled from the Soviet Communist Party in 1927, capitulated in 1929, was arrested after the Kirov assassination, and died in exile.
. There were around 900 KPJ members and sympathisers in the Soviet Union during this period, of whom 50 were party officials. Over 800 of them were arrested, of whom only about 40 survived the Gulag.
. Triša Kazlerović (1879-1964), a Serb, was a founder of the Serbian Social Democratic Party, and joined the KPJ at its foundation in 1919. Accused of right-wing deviationism, he retired from active politics, but continued to publish independent left-wing journals.
. Subsequent sources note his date of death as 1938.
. It should be remembered that Ciliga, whether as a KPJ member or a dissident Communist, or in his subsequent evolution as an independent Socialist, consistently portrayed left-wingers who called for a unitary state in Yugoslavia as apologists for Serb nationalism.