He Used To Say...

Vlado Dapcevic


Between 1953 when Vladimir Dedijer briefly referred to Vlado Dapcevic in his adulatory biography of Tito and his death in 2001 very little was known in the anglophone world about the activities of this remarkable communist revolutionary. Dedijer mentions the group of internationalist communists in Yugoslavia who opposed the counter-revolutionary course of Tito in 1948 and attempted to leave the country after the 5th Congress of the CPY. While General Arso Jovanovic was shot and killed while attempting to cross over to Rumania, Vlado Dapcevic, described as a colonel and commissioner in the Artillery Academy, escaped capture for three weeks and was then sentenced to 20 years imprisonment by a military tribunal. Prior to the partisan victory in Yugoslavia, Vlado Dapcevic had attempted to take a band of Communists to fight in Spain, confronted the fascists in Belgrade University and had fought as a partisan against the Nazis. Between 1950 and 1956 he was to suffer the tortures of Tito’s concentration camps in Goli Otok, Stara Gradiska and Bileca before escaping in 1958 to Albania and the Soviet Union where he was alarmed and shocked by Khrushchev’s rapprochement with Tito. In the 1960s he gave support to the political stands of the Albanian and Chinese communists in their struggle against Soviet revisionism and sought to travel to Cuba and Vietnam in order to fight against US imperialism. With conditions for Communists to do political work deteriorating in the USSR where he was threatened with arrest he left the country in 1966 and worked in a number of countries in western Europe before getting permission to live and work in Brussels. In 1973 he survived an assassination attempt by the Yugoslav police. Three years later he was kidnapped by the Yugoslav police and imprisoned being released only in 1988. He returned to Yugoslavia in 1990, worked in the Communist Party of Yugoslavia for a time and later assisted in the formation of the Partija Rada in 1992. While he did not fully understand the machinations of US and German imperialism in destroying Yugoslavia, arguing that the US had intervened to stop the war in Bosnia, rather to assist in the carve-up of the economic resources of the country; he supported the democratic right of the Albanians of Yugoslavia to national self-determination; and argued for the need for Yugoslavia to unite again on a more equal and democratic basis, and, more broadly for a union of the Balkan peoples in a single entity. The incorrect evaluation of the predatory role of European and US imperialism in Yugoslavia has been reproduced in the stands of Partija Rada who have argued that imperialist intervention became a factor in the ‘solution’ of the questions of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosova and Montenegro.

Vijay Singh

Professional revolutionary

As the first sign that I was a communist, I started wearing a red tie. When I read the ‘Communist Manifesto,’ I completely felt like a communist.

The next day, demonstrations took place in Cetinje.1 A horrifying battle started. We were covered with blood, but the police were as well. Suddenly, my father appeared and tried to pull me out. One worker, a member of the Party, said: ‘Let him go; let him fight. Without that, he will not grow into a real man.’

Policemen grabbed my hair, my arms... They were beating me like animals. Then they took me to the bathroom... They continued beating me and one other worker. They took me half dead to prison in a police car. They took me into a cell; I was all beaten up, all black and blue with bruises all over my body. The rest of the people who were arrested made some space for me to lie down and started pouring water on me.

During the insurrection, many organizations fell.2 I had an assignment to form new organizations and to strengthen existing ones. We continued with our assignments as if there had been no insurrection. I used to go at night from village to village, where members of the Party used to hide me and feed me.

During that period I enrolled around two hundred people into the Party. I felt as if I were fighting for a great, just cause, for the future in which there would be no exploitation. I knew I was one of the fighters in that big machine, that I made my contribution to its strength and that our victory was coming closer.

I called people together for a meeting. It was raining. I didn’t tell anyone about going to Spain. I simply told them to come so we could arrange some things. I was afraid that they would tell someone about it... their girlfriends, brothers, sisters... Everyone gathered and I told them we were going to Spain! No one objected. So we headed towards Spain in the rain.

Policemen took us away. We sang Spanish and revolutionary songs. We came across a peasant. He was old, over 70 years of age, digging around some olive trees. When he saw us, he took off his Montenegrin hat3 and his eyes filled with tears as he cried out: ‘Go, go forth my eagles, without hard work there is no resurrection!4 That old man gave us strength.

Back then, we used to have bloody battles in Belgrade University. Not just with the police, but also with the ljoticevci.5 After long periods of skirmishes, the ljoticevci once broke into the Technical Faculty. They all had guns, given to them by the chief of Nedic’s6 cabinet to kill communists in the University. There were around 40 of them. At that time, I was addressing the students. It was at the exit. When they saw me, they started shooting at me. They attacked us with guns, and we fought back with stools. One bullet grazed me below the eye; if it had been one centimetre higher or lower, I would have been dead. Six of us were wounded. We were saved by the rest of our students who came from all over Belgrade. It lasted an hour and a half, but there were no police.

Careerism leads to a struggle for power even in an illegal party. I had a chance to see this in our movement more than once. I considered these to be individual cases and that our Party was healthy and strong enough to put an end to it.

After everything I found out before the war, my attitude towards the Party remained the same. But I became more critical towards people and the way they acted. My previous idea about every communist being a perfect person – Stalin’s words about communists being special people made of special material – started to weaken. As time passed, experience showed me more and more that communists are just as sinful as any other people and that all kinds of people join the movement, both good and bad: people of bad character, careerists, those sick with ambition, cowards.

All the arrests, beatings and tortures did not discourage me one bit. On the contrary. They made me stronger. In a certain sense, it was a question of honour.

The struggle for national liberation

It was exactly 3 o’clock in the morning on July 13th. I raised my gun and said: ‘Let us begin with luck!’

Practically the whole nation joined the uprising. We were well armed; the terrain and other conditions were ideal. Then we got the first directive from the Party, to send our fighters home. I couldn’t believe my ears. It meant that we would resign ourselves to capitulation to the Italians without a fight, that all of us who returned home would be imprisoned by the Italians and taken to concentration camps. I didn’t accept the directive. Eight thousand fighters surrendered without a struggle and were taken to prisons and camps. The core of our partisan army in Montenegro were those who disobeyed the directive and hid in caves. Two days later, the directive was changed, but it was too late.

‘Comrades, we have two choices: to go back to Montenegro, or to join the First Proletarian Brigade. Why should we go back? To tell our brothers, comrades, relatives and friends that we could not avenge our best comrades at Pljevlja? Joining the First Proletarian Brigade is the best way to avenge them and to fight the Nazis. I’m convinced, because I know you and I know that you are heroes, that all of you will join the First Proletarian Brigade. I will.’

At that time, as a consequence of the fall of the Uzice republic, the defeat at Pljevlja and the increased activity of Draza Mihajlovic’s Cetniks – we began to lose many men in eastern Bosnia. Our men joined the Cetniks or the Cetniks took power in our units by coups, then taking over whole units. Before that, they would slay the commissars. They were drunk all the time.

Nowadays, one cannot understand this. But in that area such things used to happen quite often. Ustaše would pass through and rape Serbian women. Then, Cetniks would pass through and rape Muslim and Croatian women. So Serbian women used to bear children of Ustaše, while Muslim and Croat women would bear children of Cetniks.

In the beginning of the war we were defeated by Germans, Ustaše, Domobrans,7 Italians, Cetniks, by all possible formations. We weren’t trained. After a while, our shepherds, half literate and illiterate, used to beat them like cattle.

Because I had been expelled from the Party I had to prove myself all the time. I was the leader of a bomb squad. It bored me. At the end I was complaining: ‘I can’t prove myself all the time. First time lucky, second time lucky, tenth time lucky... One day I’ll die like cattle somewhere.’

I was ready to be a commissar of the Seventh Krajiška brigade. That brigade was simply slaughtered. It began the fourth and fifth offensive with one thousand seven hundred fighters, and came back with four hundred and fifty.

Even today, it is not unusual for people in Slovenia as well as Croatia, Serbia and other places to spit on the national liberation struggle and glorify those who went over to the side of fascism, those who committed the worst crimes against their own people and other nations. They are trying to forget what history had done, what really happened. The national liberation struggle of the Yugoslav peoples was great because of its ideas and the goals it set and achieved. The main goal was to liberate the country from the Nazis and to create a society of equal nations. What it turned into afterwards is another question, but the national liberation struggle itself had an absolutely positive character. That is the judgment of history and it cannot be changed.

On power

Even though I had a high rank and salary and various privileges, I was most dissatisfied during this period. I was sick of everything that was happening before my eyes. The rush for power, positions and privileges started right away. Widespread corruption took place. A certain tone for that was created by Tito himself. He was pushing people into positions, giving them privileges and thus he tied them to him.

Near my house was a diplomatic store with high quality goods, and it was 3 times cheaper than anywhere else. Only about 40 people had access to it. One day my aunt came to me to ask for newspapers to wrap bread in. She said: ‘I’m ashamed to carry bread in the street.’ I asked: ‘Why?’ She said: ‘Because others don’t have it.’ ‘So, where do you buy it?’ She said: ‘At that store.’ Then I forbade her to bring it to the house, even though we used to eat white bread before the war. I criticized this at a Party meeting, but it didn’t help. I openly said that we are turning into a feudal bureaucracy with special privileges and as an example I showed how big my salary was with all the privileges. My salary was eight thousand dinars, plus a thousand cigarettes, free coal and wood, a uniform, telephone – everything for free. Besides that, we used to pay minimal rent to the owner of the house. I calculated that all together it was about 42,000 dinars, back then. The average wage was about 3,000 dinars. I said back then that we were cutting the branch we were sitting on, and if we didn’t eliminate these privileges, we would not only separate ourselves from the people, but we would become crippled psychologically. The Head of the Directorate for Cadres replied to my arguments: ‘If you don’t like white bread, then you don’t have to take it!’

And that was the revolution: peasants became commanders and commissars. Since they weren’t ideologically developed people, they easily changed their views and ideas. At that time, ninety nine percent of our cadre didn’t know the basics of Marxism-Leninism.

1948. Goli Otok8

This is a major question which did not only lead to the break with the Soviet Union, but also with the rest of the socialist and communist movement. To preserve ourselves economically, militarily and otherwise, whether we wanted to or not, we would have had to turn toward the U.S. imperialists. In order to obtain credits from them, we would have had to give big privileges to the domestic bourgeoisie in politics, cadre and every other respect. Step by step, nothing would remain of socialism in our country. Everyone who died died for nothing. This had to be stopped!

One interesting thing happened at that time. When the inspectors had finished their job, evidence against us had to be delivered to the supreme military prosecutor to make an indictment. However, they stated that there was no criminal offence, that these were Party violations and so they could only be punished by the Party. After the prosecutors rejected it, their assistants were called, but they rejected it as well. They were all arrested and sent to Goli Otok. Imagine how brave those people were.

There was unimaginable terror on Goli Otok. It was not even like in Hitler’s camps. There was internal terror where people were forced to beat, torture and even kill those people whom they slept next to. You can imagine what food was like. Labour was a means of torture. All day long we used to move rocks from one hole to another. Then there were beatings every day through a stroj.9 Whoever didn’t beat you or beat you hard enough, was next in line to pass through the stroj. Afterwards came sleep. You slept bent over so that your hands were behind your back, from nine to midnight. The second night, from midnight to morning. The third, the whole night. If you moved, they beat you with bats. That was the worst crime against humanity.

They beat him horribly. Nenad was an astonishing man. He could bear an hour of beating and not make a sound. Then they grabbed Remzo; they hit him and hit him... From there they took us down to the Pit10 and threw us on the floor of the shanty. I couldn’t move or hardly breathe. I had horrible pains. Seven ribs were broken. Vukcevic was lying next to me and dying. I heard him say: ‘Oh my children, my wife, what will happen to you.’ Soon he died. They took him out in a blanket and buried him nearby. Actually, they just covered him with dirt... A guy named Drezgic, who used to work at the Comintern, was tortured so much that one day he tried to commit suicide with an axe that they had forgotten about. They took it away from him. The next time he sharpened a spoon with a rock and used it to cut his throat.

On Goli Otok I realized that the Yugoslav leadership had gone over to the other side of the barricades and that they would take revenge, just as any other renegades did, on their old comrades first. On Goli Otok it wasn’t the beatings, hunger, thirst, or even the tortuous labour, or not sleeping... that was the worst. Although each of these things was bad, the most dreadful was the atmosphere. The atmosphere of horror which you could smell in the air. In this atmosphere of horror I came to the conclusion that one has to fight to the death against those who commit such crimes.

The police controlled everything. Khrushchev capitulated before Tito and thus left us, the Marxist-Leninists, completely isolated – without the support of the international communist movement. Goli Otok and the other concentration camps completely destroyed people, demoralized them and made them incapable of any kind of political struggle.

Emigration and the struggle against revisionism

‘We, the Yugoslav communists who remained committed to Marxism-Leninism and proletarian internationalism, were more than shocked when we read that the Soviets received Tito like Caesar after his triumph. The same Tito by whose orders thousands of Yugoslav communists were held in prisons, tortured in the most horrible ways for their loyalty to internationalism and the Soviet Union, by whose orders many people were crippled both physically and psychologically and even died horrible deaths. We simply could not believe that it was possible of the Soviet Union.’

Emigration? Political emigration has been described by many, but it seems to me the best description of it was by Vera Zasulic. In her memoirs Vera wrote: ‘Nothing destroys a revolutionary morally – hanging, prisons, dungeons, exile, not even Siberia – more than emigration.’ I had so many chances to see such emigrants that I have to say that what Vera wrote in the last century is completely correct. That is the destiny of the emigrant.

When the situation with Cuba became more acute, I went to the Cuban embassy and met the ambassador. I suggested that he take me and few of our men as volunteers. I had already spoken with our men and they wanted to go. In the Soviet Union we completely failed politically and it was all the same to us from where would we fight the imperialists. The Cubans accepted our proposal. I spoke about it with Che Guevara during his visit to Moscow. In the end, the Russians did not give us visas and prevented our departure.

I was one hundred percent on the side of the Albanians and Chinese. When the Chinese started publishing letters about everything that had happened between them and the Russians, I sat down and wrote a letter to all the communist parties. The reason was Khrushchev’s interview with Sulzberger. When Khrushchev was asked if Cuba was a socialist country, he answered that it was not, and when he was asked if Yugoslavia was, he answered that it was. He gave many compliments to Tito. Of course, I didn’t agree and wrote in the letter that ‘some most important leaders’ were causing confusion in the world communist movement and especially among the Yugoslav communists. I asked for a clear position as to whether the League of Yugoslav Communists was a Marxist-Leninist organization in regard to its programme adopted in 1958 and if Yugoslavia was a socialist country. One month and a half later, Mao Tsetung wrote a pamphlet titled: ‘Is Yugoslavia A Socialist Country?’ The Russians realized that I had something to do with it. A battle of unequal forces began.

It was clear that the Soviet leadership of that time had abandoned basic principles of socialism and began living like the bourgeoisie, that they had adopted bourgeois ideology and that this would lead to the restoration of capitalism. For example, here is what the rector of a Soviet university had: a salary of two thousand rubles (together with his wife), a five-room apartment downtown, a villa – once a castle on the coast, a small ship, his own car and a state car with a driver. His driver, who told me all this, had a sick wife, three children, a salary of eighty rubles, and lived in a basement. He said: ‘What kind of ‘comrades’ are he and I? Either he is not a ‘comrade,’ when he has all that, or I am not a ‘comrade,’ when I put up with it. Most probably neither of us is a ‘comrade’.’

I realized that what had happened to the Soviet Union had been foreseen by Lenin in an article. He was asked whether the restoration of capitalism was possible in a socialist country, and answered positively. He wrote that it is possible in two ways: first, when the capitalists unite and destroy socialism by force; second, by the bureaucratisation and bourgeoisification of the Party and state apparatus. In the second case, counterrevolution and the restoration (of capitalism) takes place from the top down, within the apparatus itself. I was witness to that in the Soviet Union.

I starved for two months in Paris. Each day I ate a half-kilo of bread and drank a half-litre of milk. Then my papers were extended and I took various jobs in order to survive. In the meanwhile I met and started connecting with our economic emigrants, to form groups and convince them of the need for revolutionary struggle. I formed several groups, propagated Marxism-Leninism, discussed various problems with them. All of that after 12 hours of work.

I was in Paris during the general strike and workers’ demonstrations. Nothing functioned, everything stopped. Then I felt how great the strength of a united working class can be.

The Second Yugoslavia

It was not Tito who said ‘no’ to Stalin; it was Stalin who said ‘no’ to Tito by criticizing his politics. The political course taken by Tito and the Yugoslav leadership came as a gift from heaven to U.S. imperialism. In the period of 1946–62, Yugoslavia was backed by a huge amount of money which made it a consumer society compared to other East European countries. They strengthened Yugoslavia militarily and materially so that it could break with the other socialist countries by propaganda and by the army. Yugoslavia joined the Balkan pact and acted as an unofficial member of NATO.

The top leadership began talking about ‘self-management,’ about power to the working class, even though it was all just a disguise. They split the working class with some pitiful economic incentives and then they did whatever they wanted. In spite of self-management, they did with state property what they wanted. Tito was the first to do that after the war, and after 1957 this reached royal dimensions. On an ideological plane, all I saw was revisionism which was leading towards the restoration of capitalism by giant steps.

I had a conflict with the judge and the prosecutor. They wanted me to sign a statement that I was arrested on Yugoslav territory, but they had kidnapped me in Romania. I refused. The prosecutor yelled: ‘We are treating you well, but that could change!’ I had to tell him: ‘Why are you yelling, you cop!’ Thanks to the billions from the West, placing itself at the service of Western strategic interests, Yugoslavia reached the standard of Central European countries. It is nonsense to claim that nothing was done in the previous period. It is a fact that at that time they used the help and credits to build up the country, instead of spending it all on themselves.

If anyone was harshly prosecuted individually, then it was I by Tito. During his reign I spent twenty-one years in prison. Twice I was arrested, kidnapped abroad, sentenced to death and so forth. I look at him as at any other historical figure... I defend Tito during the period of the war, because by defending him I defend the brightest page in our history. Nowadays, many people make up things and lie about it. The Party’s general line during the war, at whose head was Tito, who mainly created that line, was good. If it had not been, the Party would not have won the war and people would not have accepted it. We fought the enemy and spread brotherhood among our peoples; we gained the trust of all peoples and won. I bow to Tito and his war accomplishments, but for 1948 I would cut his head off.

The dismemberment of Yugoslavia and the struggle against nationalism

One of the reasons I decided to return to Yugoslavia as quickly as possible was my concern about what was happening in my own country. I decided to come back and contribute at least a little to the preservation of the country, which was created by our blood. We have to try to prevent the horror which is spreading across the country, the horror of most terrible civil, national and religious war. If the patriotic majority, which is silent at the moment, does not wake up, rise and organize, but allows the nationalists to lead, it will not be any good.

In the case of a civil war in a multinational country, the army cannot play an important role. The Yugoslav army consists of members of all Yugoslav nations, so they will act as their nation decides. In those situations such armies fall apart. Things have to be settled in such a manner as to avoid military intervention. The army was not created to wage wars against its own people but to protect them from an external enemy.

Because of its national constitution and many other events that took place there during World War II, Bosnia and Herzegovina became the centre of all national differences in Yugoslavia. If Bosnian Croats join Croatia and Bosnian Serbs join Serbia, that would lead to a civil war that would dismember Yugoslavia. In that case, the Muslims would end up between the hammer and anvil, and would pay the biggest price.

Everything that is happening has its roots in the conflict of 1948. That is when we abandoned proletarian internationalism and switched to bourgeois nationalism. In the beginning that nationalism was all-Yugoslav, which very quickly changed to republican and regional nationalism. A country like Yugoslavia could only preserve itself without one nation dominating the others.

When the ruling regime in Serbia and Montenegro suffered a total military, political and diplomatic defeat, they made up a new scam of creating a new country, but in fact this was just to stay in power. Just the way the idea of creating a Greater Serbia, to make all Serbs live in one country, caused so many casualties and bloodshed, that is how insisting on a new Yugoslavia would lead to more conflicts because the question of the Albanians would rise to first place. That is why we have to fight by all means to stop the citizens of Serbia and Montenegro from leaving their bones in Kosovo in a more horrible and dirty war. We have to struggle for the defeat of the politics which was started in SANU11 with the so-called Memorandum and which found its executor in Slobodan Miloševic, because it is not just in the interest of the Yugoslav peoples, but in the interest of the Serbian people in the first place. It is just a matter of time when they will leave power, because such politics leads nowhere.

We can talk seriously about the opposition to Slobodan Miloševic’s regime only if that opposition unites on the basis of a single program. Without that one cannot achieve anything by demonstrations nor can one achieve democracy with anti-communist slogans. With anti-communism one always gets fascism instead of democracy.

Everyone knows that Miloševic is no communist. How can a communist raise the banner of hatred against other peoples?! And of course, against his own people, because he made Serbia commit crimes which will be judged sooner or later. The world has the right to call him the ‘butcher of the Balkans.’

If only in 1990 we had a party with such quality as the Communist Party of Yugoslavia had before World War II, with a strong workers’ ideology and internationalist spirit, there would not have been this last war and the misery it brought. If we couldn’t have convinced them not to wage war by political means, we would have organized 100,000 partisans and scared off all the Cetniks and Ustaše, just as in the liberation war.

The preservation and strengthening of a unified Bosnia and Herzegovina [B&H] is of great importance, not just because the peoples of B&H would live together, mingle their cultures and habits just as they did in past centuries, but also because the existence or non-existence of a unified B&H has a major impact on the future of the Yugoslav peoples. It is not an accident that old enemies, the Serbian and Croatian nationalists, made a deal to split B&H and to create there a Greater Serbia and Greater Croatia, to exterminate and deport the Bosniaks from their territories. They wanted to split Bosnia because a split Bosnia would mean the destruction of the idea of a renewal of Yugoslavia.

War raged in B&H for four years before the USA and NATO took part in it. They were watching the destruction of the nations in B&H, the worst crimes, genocides, etc. However, when the danger appeared of the war escalating from B&H to Kosovo, Macedonia and the whole Balkans and hence called into question the global interests of U.S. imperialism, and when the danger appeared that things would get out of control, the USA, as the global superpower, took part in order to stop the war. They made Miloševic and Tudjman sign the Dayton Agreement which would guarantee a unified B&H and preserve it as a state, make possible the return of refugees to their homes, freedom of movement and punishment of war crimes. If Tudjman and Miloševic do not accept cooperation in applying the Dayton agreement, relations with the USA and NATO would worsen with the possibility of military intervention, in which many people would die.

The question of Kosovo cannot and will not be solved by force. The question of Kosovo can only be solved by an agreement on a democratic basis. The people of Serbia and the people of Kosovo have to democratically elect people who will represent them and then they should sit down and reach an agreement. All further escalation of conflicts leads to bloodshed, to big casualties between both peoples, and we do not want this because we have to live together, whether we want to or not. History has shown that we cannot achieve anything through force. If one nation gains its national awareness and unites, and thanks to repression the Albanian people have never been so united as today, then politics is lead not by wishes but by a real balance of power.

When we talk about the Albanians, we do not intend to give them or anyone else advice, but on the basis of the experiences of the national liberation struggle in the world, I could tell the Albanians only one thing – it only depends on the Albanians and their struggle and unity whether they will be free and make decisions about their own destiny. In any case, we will stand on the side of the righteous struggle of the Albanian people.

I am for a sovereign Montenegro, just because I am a Yugoslav. In any case, we should take one step at a time. In order to reach that goal we will support the forces which are fighting for a sovereign Montenegro. When Montenegro gains its sovereignty, we will become enemies of these forces, because we, in the first place, are fighting for the workers’ movement and socialism.

Vojvodina,12 an extremely multinational area, possibly the most multinational area in the world, can properly develop only as an autonomous region. Only in that way can the specific culture and interests of the peoples who live in Vojvodina be taken into consideration. Second – it is a separate area and as such it has its own specific conditions of development, and with autonomy it can exploit those conditions.

We should fight for Sandzak13 to gain autonomy. That is part of the general struggle for democracy and equality of the Yugoslav peoples.

Even the situation in Macedonia is bad, maybe not as bad as in Yugoslavia, but it is still very bad. The Albanians cannot have their own university. Why should they have to study in Macedonian when they are not minority in Macedonia?

In this country, where the working class is neither theoretically nor practically recognized, May Day should not be celebrated. Most of the workers don’t even have jobs. They are on paid or forced vacations. Such misery is used by the most extreme nationalist elements and they turn the workers into petty thieves. At the same time, the bourgeois mafia in power represents its own thieving interests as the interests of the workers. The working class in Yugoslavia was destroyed during Tito’s regime, when the individualistic interests took over due to the so-called workers’ self-management. It wasn’t hard to destroy the workers’ class-consciousness, because they were then as they are now just half peasants. They live in the village but they work in the city just to get pensions and social security. The best proof of the petty bourgeois consciousness of our working class is that they accepted nationalism due to their low level of political education, voting even for the most extreme fascists. By doing that, the working class voted against itself and its own interests.

Today we must have a democratic revolution for the establishment of genuine rather than formal democracy, with full equality for the peoples, as well as the removal of all anti-democratic and nationalist powers. One cannot skip stages in history. We must pass though this stage, and the first condition to pass through it is to replace nationalist with democratic consciousness, and on the basis of these democratic ideas to defeat reactionary ideology, in the first place in Serbia and Croatia. Only after the defeat of nationalist ideologies we can talk about ideological and political preparations for the immediate task to struggle for a socialist system with democratic leadership, equality of peoples and social justice.

It is my deep conviction that Yugoslavia can only collapse temporarily because Yugoslavia is not a random or artificial creation of Versailles14 but a result of the genuine experience and tendency of its peoples. It will not be long before Yugoslavia will unite again on a better, more equal and democratic basis than in the first and second Yugoslavia.

The peoples of the Balkans are mingled together in such a way that the national question in the Balkans, which is a geographic, economic and cultural entity, can only be solved by the union of the Balkan peoples in a single entity.

Imperialism and NATO

I think that nothing has essentially changed in the world. Imperialism remains as it was; it has just changed its form. Instead of monopolies and trusts, we have multinational companies which have outgrown the narrow borders of states. Imperialism has become a bigger robber than ever.

The battle has begun. I think that this laughter from excitement which nowadays the world bourgeoisie doesn’t hide, especially its representatives – Mitterand, Bush, Thatcher, etc. – is a bit too hasty. The class struggle continues. In the class struggle, just as in any struggle, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. We have lost for some time because of the growth of revisionism. It is time to start winning.

The workers of the West are living on the backs of the Third World countries. What the Spanish conquistadors did was picking pockets compared to the multinational companies.

The victory of revisionism in the Soviet Union led to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the change over to capitalist positions in Russia and the other Eastern European countries. The Warsaw Pact has been eliminated... It is reasonable that NATO should be dissolved... However, the U.S. imperialists and their allies not only did not dissolve NATO, but made it even stronger and increased the arms race. They also made a decision to expand NATO to the Russian borders. Partija Rada is absolutely against NATO’s expansion, because it is a preparation for the most reactionary imperialist and enslaving war. That is why we will fight with all our might against this most reactionary superpower in the world today.

It is a classic and irresolvable problem between the productive forces and capitalist relations, i.e. between the new technologies, with a hitherto unseen productivity of labour, and capitalist ownership. Just as manufacture and the steam engine destroyed the feudal system, so microprocessors, electronics and robotics will destroy the capitalist social system.

Partija Rada

We took the name ‘Partija Rada’15 not because we gave up on the name ‘communist,’ but because there are several parties with such a name on the Yugoslav political scene. That is the way we separated ourselves from them, because they are not communists but nationalists who compromise the idea of communism even more, and who do no more than defend the nationalist regimes in Serbia and Montenegro.

We are aware that in this flood of nationalism and compromise of the socialist idea, we won’t gain many members. But we also know that the masses learn politics from their own experience, so time works for us.

In the current conditions Partija Rada is forced to act alone. If genuine revolutionary and democratic forces appear, we will work in a united front with them and even unite with them. For now, Partija Rada will struggle against those parties which represent themselves as left wing and sow confusion among the people. We will fight against those who ‘wave the red flag to oppose the red flag,’ because they are our greatest enemies. At the end, let me summarize. There is great chaos under heaven, and great events await us. We have to prepare for them. As Goethe would say: ‘One deserves freedom only if one fights for it every day.’

Every idea is worth as much as those who carry out that idea. To be able to bear the burden of historical responsibility, Partija Rada needs people who are capable of carrying out that responsibility. That is why Partija Rada will only accept the most politically conscious, most militant and most principled workers.

Vlado personally

All my life I have tried to be consistent in what I believe in, no matter what the consequences.

Since the first day I became a member of the Communist Party, I considered myself to be a member of the Soviet party at the same time. There was no difference for me. It is hard today to understand such internationalist feelings as we all had. It was inseparable from the feeling of being a communist. The last sentence in the ‘Communist Manifesto’ – Workers of the World, Unite! – has had a grip on me since the first day. That I felt internationalism to my bones is proven by the fact that I wanted to go to Spain as a volunteer several times. Later on in the USSR, I made arrangements to go to Cuba and after that to Vietnam. When I became a communist, I took two things for granted forever. First – proletarian internationalism. Second, that Marxism-Leninism is a teaching of class struggle, that everything has to be analysed from a class point of view. One's ideology is either socialist or bourgeois. There is no third ideology. Everything else is a lie and deception.

Taking communism as an idea, I considered it my duty to use all my strength and capabilities to struggle for that idea, without weakening before any danger or difficulty. That is why I always took on the hardest and most dangerous tasks. I considered it immoral to call others into battle, to fights, demonstrations, clashes with the police, and not to show others by example. In all those tasks, in the end, I defended my human and personal dignity.

Women are the better half of humanity. I was convinced of that a hundred times in my life.

Would I go to court again? – That doesn’t depend on me. But it is possible. That is one of the elements of political struggle. There is a saying: ‘Whoever is scared of the wolf shouldn’t go into the forest.’ I, as you can see, go to the forest.

If I had to criticize myself about something in my life, something that is in some way unforgivable, it would be for being naive in certain matters. But believe me, one can’t live in this world without trusting people, even when you shouldn’t trust them under any circumstances. Man is a social being and no matter if you want to or not, you have to live with other people. How can you live with them if you don’t trust them?

You, my comrades, can’t believe how happy I am to be with you again. I am 80, and someone might say – What does this old man want? But I consider it my revolutionary duty. As Fidel Castro would say: ‘There is no pension for a revolutionary. They fight and work until their death.’ And until my tired heart stops beating, there will be no rest for me in contributing according to my capabilities to the biggest and most beautiful ideal of all – the fulfilment of the communist ideas. I have struggled for 64 years as a revolutionary and I have always been full of joy in that struggle. No matter in how difficult a situation I was, I have always tried hard to contribute to the idea of communism. I am saying this so that our younger comrades can understand, that in order to accomplish the greatest ideals which history has placed before humanity, we must fight persistently, to the end, no matter the circumstances. Whoever is not willing to give up many things shouldn’t take up this task. A revolutionary can only be someone who gains a certain ideological and political knowledge; otherwise he cannot be a revolutionary.

Everything that I went through tells me that I will die completely at peace, because I did everything according to my capabilities to help people live better. In such a struggle, when you fight harder, you have to pay. I think I confirmed Marx’s saying – when they asked him what the meaning of happiness was for him, he replied: ‘To struggle!’ I am a happy man because I have had the strength my whole life, even today at 80, to fight for a better society. And I won’t stop fighting as long as I still breathe because that is the meaning of my life.

Political Biography

* Vladimir Vlado Dapcevic was born in 1917 in the village of Ljubotinja in Montenegro;

* He attends high school in Cetinje, from which he is expelled after organizing a student strike;

* From reading the ‘Communist Manifesto,’ and later Marx, Engels, Lenin and Plekhanov, as well as good literature with social themes, he accepts communist ideas;

* As a 16-year-old (1933), he becomes a member of the League of Communist Youth of Yugoslavia.16 That year he is arrested for the first time for distributing communist leaflets;

* He is admitted into the Communist Party in 1934. From then until 1935, due to clashes with fascist youth, he is arrested many times;

* In 1935, during a large demonstration organized by the CPY, he is arrested after a big fight with the police. He spends a month in jail;

* He continues school in Podgorica, Nikšic and Prizren, but is expelled from all of them. He is told that due to his communist activities he is forbidden to attend any school in Yugoslavia;

* For his contribution in organizing Party cells, he is chosen organizational secretary of the Regional Committee of the SKOJ;17

* Due to the 1936 breakdown in the CPY, massive arrests of Party members begin. The Party strikes back by organizing demonstrations in Montenegro, where clashes with the police take place. In those clashes 12 people die, about 50 are wounded, while almost 400 are arrested. After a Party directive to stop the clashes, Vlado surrenders to the police. He spends almost 4 months in a Sarajevo jail, after which almost all prisoners are released due to the pressure of foreign public opinion;

* In the beginning of 1937, he is elected organizational secretary of the Party Committee in Cetinje. He applies to volunteer in Spain, but the police find out about this action and arrest a large group of volunteers;

* Only in 1939 is he allowed to graduate, which he does in Kotor. The same year he signs up for the Technological Faculty in Belgrade;

* In the University in Belgrade he takes part in the struggle for university autonomy, as well as in organizing Party cells among workers;

* In one of many clashes with fascist youth he is severely wounded in the head;

* In 1940 he takes part in the plenum of the Regional Committee of the CPY. He then takes on an assignment to go to Boka Kotorska, where he works at creating Party organizations;

* Due to a factional fight inside the CPY, the County Committee in Cetinje is dissolved;

* During the bombing of April 6th 1941, he is in Belgrade from where he goes to Montenegro and takes place in the Party action to mobilize the people against the Nazi occupation;

* At dawn on July 13th 1941, he takes part in the attack on Cevo, which is the beginning of the people’s uprising in Montenegro;

* He is not allowed to participate in the Regional conference of the CPY, and after that he is dismissed from the Party;

* As a fighter of the Lovcen battalion, he takes part in the attack on Pljevlja where he is wounded;

* He attends the formation of the First Proletarian Brigade in Rudo and takes part in the Igman march;

* In Foča, at the beginning of 1942, he is readmitted into the Party and made commissar of the Drinski volunteer squad;

* In mid-1942, he becomes commander of a platoon in the Lovcen battalion. Due to his criticisms he is dismissed from the Party again;

* As commander of a bomb squad he takes part in many actions until he is wounded;

* He takes part in the battles of Neretva and Sutjeska. After these battles he is readmitted into the Party again and becomes commissar of the 7th Krajiška Brigade;

* In the first half of 1944, he becomes commissar of the military school at General Headquarters, and then commissar of the 10th division. When the war is over, his rank is sub-colonel;

* After the war he becomes a teacher at the Higher Party School, and after that in 1947 he becomes chief of the JNA18 Direction for agitation and propaganda;

* He attends the 5th Congress of the CPY in 1948. After accepting the Cominform Resolution he tries to emigrate. He doesn’t succeed, but the chief of the General headquarters of JNA dies on that occasion on the Romanian border. Vlado hides in Belgrade for some time, and during his next attempt to escape over the Hungarian border he is arrested;

* He spends 22 months in jail after which he is sentenced to 20 years in prison;

* From June 1950 to December 6th 1956, he is in the camps of Stara Gradiška, Bileca and Goli Otok. During that time he is exposed to unimaginable torture, but they do not succeed in changing his political ideas;

* Due to a threat of new arrests, in 1958 he escapes with a group of his friends to Albania, where a dispute among the emigrants breaks out on the question of the future struggle. Vlado wants to continue the struggle in Yugoslavia while the majority wants to go to the USSR. After a few months the Albanian government directs them to the USSR;

* After arrival in the USSR, the emigrants are offered schools and jobs, but Vlado refuses, wanting to continue political work;

* He organizes strong propaganda before the Conference of Communist Parties in Moscow is held. The Conference accepts the resolution in which the Yugoslav Party is denounced as revisionist and anti-Marxist;

* During the Cuban crisis, Vlado organizes volunteers among the emigrants to fight in Cuba. Although visas are granted by the Cuban authorities, the Soviet government does not allow their departure;

* After the XXII Congress of the CPSU, by supporting the position of the Albanian and Chinese communists in conflict with the CPSU, Vlado starts activities against revisionism. The Soviet government threatens him with arrest and exile;

* While living in Odessa in 1964 and 1965, Vlado works on a thesis of the history of the Yugoslav workers’ movement;

* In the beginning of 1965, he tries to go to Vietnam to participate in the struggle of the Vietnamese people, but the Soviet government prevents his efforts;

* In 1966 he leaves the USSR and moves to Western Europe;

* In order to survive, in Belgium, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands he does the heaviest jobs. At the same time he tries to develop political activities among Yugoslav economic emigrants, but does not succeed. The police of these countries arrest him and deport him from one country to another. Only in 1969 is he granted permanent residence in Belgium.

* In that country he connects with Marxist-Leninist parties from Western Europe and takes part in their work;

* In 1973 he successfully avoids an attempt at physical liquidation by agents of the Yugoslav police;

* He is kidnapped in 1975 in Bucharest by Yugoslavs with the knowledge of the Romanian police. On that occasion two of his comrades are killed. In Yugoslavia he is sentenced to death, but later the sentence is commuted to 20 years in prison. He is released from his prison cell in Pozarevac in June 1988 and is immediately banned from the country;

* After the ban is removed in 1990, Vlado returns to the country. In many interviews he points out the danger of war and the dismemberment of Yugoslavia;

* Less than a year afterwards he joins the leadership of the newly formed Communist Party of Yugoslavia, but it splits due to his struggle against nationalism in the Party. Vlado creates the Partija Rada on March 27th 1992;

* During the war in Yugoslavia, he actively takes part in strengthening the democratic and anti-nationalist consciousness in order to stop the war and defeat the nationalist forces, during which he directs his struggle at the regime in Belgrade, as the strongest nationalist regime both numerically and militarily, and the initiator of the fratricidal war;

* From 1992 to 1996, he takes part in conferences and gatherings of Marxist-Leninist parties, where he fights for this movement, after the defeat of revisionism in the new circumstances, to take a correct ideological position;

* At the First Congress of Partija Rada in 1997, Vlado creates the foundations for a genuine revolutionary party in Yugoslavia by taking part in the creation of the programme of the Partija Rada and giving it politically leadership;

* Until his death on July 12th 2001, Vlado does not cease his revolutionary work.


1. Cetinje – a mountain and small town in Montenegro – translator.

2. I.e., when police informers infiltrated Party organizations, many of the organizations fell into the hands of the police.

3. A traditional hat still in use in some rural areas.

4. A traditional saying.

5. Followers of Dimitrije Ljotic, Serbian fascist.

6. Head of the Quisling government during the Nazi occupation.

7. Domobran, Croatian for defender of the homeland. The regular army of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH).

8. Name of the island (English – Naked Island) where a notorious concentration camp for political dissidents was located.

9. Serbian for a formation or gauntlet, a particular way of beating: people were placed in two columns facing each other, and the victim had to pass between them while the inmates in the formation beat them from both sides.

10. Referring to Peter’s pit (Serbian – Petrova jama).

11. Short for ‘Srpska akademija nauke i umetnosti’ (English – Serbian Academy of Science and Art).

12. A region in northern Serbia.

13. Area in Serbia also known as Raška, on the border with Bosnia, with a majority Bosniak population.

14. French city.

15. Serbian – Party of Labour.

16. Also known as SKOJ.

17. League of Youth.

18. Short for Jugoslovenska narodna armija (Yugoslav People’s Army).

Partija Rada, November 2001.

Translated from the Serbo-Croatian by S. Krcmar.
Prepared for publication by George Gruenthal.

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