|Died||30 November 1990 (aged 76)|
|Novi prilozi za biografiju Josipa Broza Tita |
The Yugoslav Auschwitz and the Vatican
|Awards||Commemorative Medal of the Partisans of 1941|
Order of the Partisan Star
Vladimir Dedijer (Serbian Cyrillic: Владимир Дедијер; 4 February 1914 – 30 November 1990) was a Yugoslav partisan fighter during World War II who became known as a politician, human rights activist, and historian. In the early postwar years, he represented Yugoslavia at the United Nations and was a senior government official.
Later, after being at cross purposes with the government, he concentrated on his academic career as a historian. He taught at the University of Belgrade and also served as a visiting professor at several universities in the United States and Europe. He participated in the Bertrand Russell International War Crimes Tribunal in 1967, reviewing United States forces activities in Vietnam, and in later tribunals.
Vladimir Dedijer was born to a Serbian family in Belgrade, in the Kingdom of Serbia, which later was absorbed into Yugoslavia. His family originated from Čepelica, Bileća in Bosnia and Herzegovina and were Orthodox Christians. His father Jevto Dedijer was a professor of geography at Belgrade University and his mother Milica a social worker. He was the middle of three sons: Borivoje (Boro), Vladimir, and Stevan.
Before World War II, Dedijer married Olga Popovic. Their daughter Milica, named for his mother, was born on the eve of the war. After Olga died in 1943, the widowed Dedijer married again the next year.
He married Vera Krizman, an actress, in 1944. He and Vera had four children together: daughter Bojana and three sons, Borivoje (Boro), Branimir (Branko), and Marko Dedijer. Branko committed suicide at 13, after being interrogated by police about his father's political activities. After he returned home, he hanged himself. Boro committed suicide in 1966 by jumping off a cliff near his father's house. But Dedijer believed that Boro was killed by Slovenian police.
In his youth Dedijer attended the Conference for Reconciliation in Poland in 1929 as a delegate of Yugoslav high school youth. In 1931, he attended the XX World Congress of the Young Men's Christian Association in Cleveland, Ohio in the United States.
After finishing high school, Dedijer worked for the daily newspaper Politika while studying law. As a journalist, he became a foreign correspondent in Poland, Denmark, Norway (1935), England (1935-1936), and Spain (1936) in the years before the outbreak of World War II. For his support of the Republican government in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, Dedijer was fired from Politika in 1937 by order of the Yugoslav government.
During the 1930s, Dedijer collaborated with the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (CPY). Dedijer considered himself an independent thinker like Serbian ancestors. "It is hard to be a Serb," he said once, "But how beautiful!"
Dedijer joined Yugoslav partisans in 1941 in their struggle against the Nazi Germany occupiers. He served as Lieutenant Colonel in Tito's headquarters. During the war he was a political commissar.
His wife, Olga, a medical student who had become a partisan surgeon, was killed during the battle of Sutjeska in Bosnia in 1943. He was wounded then and on two later occasions. The day after Olga's funeral, Dedijer was seriously injured. Tito partisans promoted him to colonel and sent him to recover in Cairo, Egypt and Naples, Italy. In 1944 Dedijer returned to Tito's Adriatic base Vis.
After the war Dedijer served as a member of the Yugoslav delegation on 1946 Paris peace conference and in several sessions of United Nations General Assembly (1945–1952). He also became a history professor at the University of Belgrade.
In 1952 Dedijer became a member of the Party's Central Committee. The following year he was appointed to the Federal Assembly. He was the sole member of the Central Committee to side in 1954 with Milovan Djilas when Djilas was deposed by Tito for criticizing a "New Class" of party bureaucrats and advocating the rule of law in socialism. Dedijer defended Djilas's right to freedom of expression before the Central Committee of the CPY in January 1954. In response, Dedijer was expelled from the CPY, removed from his political offices, and dismissed from his teaching position in the History Department at the University of Belgrade. Djilas was jailed and Dedijer received a suspended prison sentence of six months.
Granted a passport by Yugoslav authorities in 1959, Dedijer was allowed to leave the country with his family. From then on, he devoted himself to writing history and teaching. He taught at University of Belgrade and served as visiting professor of history at universities in the United States: Michigan, Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, and Yale; and in Europe: Paris (Sorbonne), Manchester (England), and Stockholm, Sweden.
In 1978 he was admitted as a full member to the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts.
Dedijer is known for his book, The Yugoslav Auschwitz and the Vatican: The Croatian Massacre of the Serbs During World War II, which was translated into several languages. He wrote about the violent repression and genocide committed by Ustashe Catholics in Croatia against ethnicities and religions that they considered heretics. He estimated a total of 750,000 Orthodox Serbs; 60,000 Jews; and 26,000 Sinti and Roma were massacred by the Ustashe.
The preface of the 1992 book edition reads,
His history, The Road to Sarajevo (1966), discusses the origins of World War I. His book Tito (1953), was translated into twenty languages. Dedijer donated all his income from that book ($530,000) to charities. Dedijer wrote two important accounts of Yugoslav Partisan history: Diary and Tito, both of which have been published in English.
Dedijer was considered a leading authority on genocide in the twentieth century. Together with French philosopher and activist Jean-Paul Sartre, he chaired the Bertrand Russell International Tribune on War Crimes, organized in 1966, in the role of the first vice-president.
The First International Russell Tribunal was set up in 1966 to adjudicate the war crimes committed by the US in Vietnam and conducted hearings in 1967. The Tribunal was due to sit in Paris, but the French authorities refused to grant an entry visa to Dedijer. For that reason, the Tribunal held its first session in Stockholm, Sweden (May 2–10, 1967) and the second session in Roskilde, Denmark (Nov 20 - Dec 1 1967). Both sessions were presided by Dedijer. The sessions condemned the US for war crimes, aggression, and genocide in the Vietnam war.
Dedijer presided over the Third International Russell Tribunal, which was constituted in Darmstadt and held on October 16, 1977. The Tribunal dealt with the denial of the right of individuals to practice their chosen profession in West Germany because of their political convictions, after the government had issued a discriminatory decree against radicals at a time of great social unrest in the nation. legislature had passed laws against in West Germany.
In 1982 Dedijer filed a lawsuit against Kosta Nađ and Ivica Račan.
Dedijer died in Boston, Massachusetts on 30 November 1990. He was subsequently cremated. His ashes were returned for interment at Žale Central Cemetery in Ljubljana, Slovenia.