Milovan Djilas


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Yugoslav politician and writer, who became a vice-president of Yugoslavia under Tito until disagreement led to his imprisonment. He was given the Freedom Award (US) in 1968.

Born in Podbisce, Montenegro, the son of an army officer, Djilas was educated at Belgrade University, where he graduated in law. Joining the Yugoslav Communist Party (YCP) in 1932, he was arrested and imprisoned (1932–35) for political activities. In 1938 he became a member of the central committee of the YCP and in 1940 he was elevated to the Politburo.

During World War II Djilas was active in the resistance movement, organizing guerrilla warfare against the Germans with Tito. After the war he became one of the leading members of Tito's cabinet, rising to become one of four vice-presidents of the Yugoslav Republic in 1953. The following year his increasing disagreement with Tito's style of leadership led to his dismissal from all government posts and his resignation from the party. Imprisoned in 1956 for publishing an article that supported the Hungarian uprising, he remained in prison (except for the period 1961–62) for the next ten years. Throughout these years he was extremely critical of the practices of communist regimes and managed to smuggle abroad several manuscripts of books and articles saying so, including The New Class (1957) and Conversations with Stalin (1962). Following his release he was permitted to travel overseas and to return to Belgrade, although relations with the Yugoslav government remained distant.

Djilas was one of Europe's foremost postwar intellectuals. He continued to publish works criticizing communist societies, his Memoirs of a Revolutionary (London, 1973), in particular, being an indictment of the regime he helped to build. Other recent publications include Tito (1980). He was formally rehabilitated in 1989.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945) — Politics.

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