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also available as Scanned original in PDF.BOX-FOLDER-REPORT: 86-3-147 TITLE: Aleksandar Rankovic -- Political Profile of A Yugoslav "Stalinist" BY: Slobodan Stankovic DATE: 1983-9-1 COUNTRY: Yugoslavia ORIGINAL SUBJECT: RAD Background Report/205 --- Begin --- RFERL RADIO FREE EUROPE Research RAD Background Report/205 (Yugoslavia) 1 September 1983 ALEKSANDAR RANKOVIC--POLITICAL PROFILE OF A YUGOSLAV "STALINIST" by Slobodan Stankovic Summary: Aleksandar Rankovic, the third man in Yugoslavia's once famous quadrumvirate of Tito, Kardelj, Rankovic, and Djilas, died of a heart attack in his private villa in Dubrovnik in the night between August 18 and 19. Having been purged on 1 July 1966 at the fourth CC plenum and deprived of all his state and party offices, Rankovic lived in retirement in Belgrade and Dubrovnik. Before his purge Rankovic had occupied two of the most important posts in Yugoslavia: he was the head of all public and secret police forces (popularly known as the UDBA) and was the Organizational Secretary of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, i.e., the chief of the party cadres. As such he was considered Tito's heir apparent. After the break between Belgrade and Moscow, Rankovic sent thousands of pro-Moscow Communists to concentration camps, especially to the worst one, called Goli Otok [Barren Island]. * * * Aleksandar Rankovic, who died of a heart attack in the Adriatic town of Dubrovnik during the night of August 18-19,  was, after Tito (who died in May 1980) and Edvard Kardelj (who died in February 1979), Yugoslavia's third most important leader until 1 July 1966, when he was purged after having been accused of doing things that "recalled Stalin's time." These words of Tito at the fourth CC plenum,  held on his resort island of Brioni, indicated that the Yugoslav leader considered Rankovic, one of his closest collaborators and his presumed heir apparent, a kind of Yugoslav Beria. ----------------------------- (1) Rankovic was buried on August 22 in the Avenue of People's Heroes at Belgrade's New Cemetery, with thousands of people according him last honors. (2) Borba (Belgrade), 2 July 1966. This material was prepared for the use of the staff of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. [page 2] RAD BR/205 Rankovic's Stalinist behavior was best illustrated in his dealings with the Albanians in Kosovo, whom he treated in the cruel manner that Stalin did some of the national minorities in the Soviet Union; and his thinking and methods were certainly Stalinist. This, however, was true not only of Rankovic but to an extent of all the Yugoslav leaders, including Tito himself. Since June 1948, when Stalin proclaimed the "Tito-Rankovic clique" traitors of the international communist movement, and later (in November 1949) even "fascist murderers," Rankovic supported Tito wholeheartedly and sent many thousands of pro-Soviet Communists to concentration camps. Rankovic was, by profession, a tailor of peasants' garments, but was, in fact, a professional revolutionary apparatchik highly esteemed not only by Tito, but also by all other Yugoslav leaders because of his workers' background. In fact, the quadrumvirate was divided into two groups; Tito and Rankovic were practitioners par excellence and cared little for theories; Kardelj (who died in February 1979) and Djilas were intellectuals inventing one theory after another. Their theories, however, were put into action only after Tito and Rankovic had approved them. It was no secret that, until the middle of 1966, Tito admired Rankovic--a Serb by origin--and his practical approach and wanted to make him his heir. He was Tito's deputy both in the state and in the party. Since he was, however, much younger than Tito, Rankovic began to show signs of impatience with the latter's extreme longevity. As a consequence, Rankovic eavesdropped not only upon his colleagues, but also upon Tito himself. This is how he got his knowledge of their weak points and tried to use them in his struggle for the final assumption of power. "Stalinist de-Stalinization." Professor Svetozar Stojanovic of Belgrade has described the way in which Rankovic fought Stalinism in Yugoslavia as "Stalinist de-Stalinization."  In other words, Rankovic and the state security service, popularly known as the UBD?? employed the same inhuman methods against their opponents as Stalin did in the Soviet Union against his. True, even today some Yugoslav theorists, not necessarily supporters of Rankovic, try to make a distinction between Stalin's gulags and Tito's concentration camps, one of the arguments being that in Yugoslavia "nobody was sentenced to death" for his or her pro-Soviet feelings. The Montenegrin professor and party theorist Radovan Radonjic recently commented on the concentration camps in Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union as follows: Probably the treatment of some prisoners was inhuman, but it is quite another question whether these were Stalinist methods.... Very few people returned from the [Soviet] gulags, while people came home en masse from the Goli Otok [Barren Island] concentration camp. Under the Stalinist system, once proclaimed guilty, people were buried for all time, while the Goli Otok prisoners were in most cases brought back into normal life, to their regular posts, functions, even to party and state functions. ------------------------------- (3)Praxis (Zagreb), no. 3-4, May-August 1972, pp. 375-398. [page 3] RAD BR/205 If we bear all this in mind, it is a big question whether Goli Otok was managed by Stalinist methods or was something quite different, sometimes accompanied by merciless behavior toward individuals. Here, a difference must be made.  Professor Radonjic also claimed that Stalinism was not the product of the person who lent it his name, Stalin, but rather "the product of the contradictions inherent in the very struggle for socialism." This was why Stalinism was an enduring concept that did not die together with Stalin. What Was Rankovic's Real Sin? One can say that Rankovic, too, was the product of the contradictions of socialism. According to Professor Stojanovic, no socialist revolution has thus far been strong enough "to treat its leaders as human beings, i.e., as beings with many weaknesses." This is why Communists in all communist-ruled countries have failed to the extent that they permitted their leaders "to become too independent and too powerful."  Almost the same wording was used by Tito at the July 1966 plenum, when he admitted that "we have left our State Security Service [which meant Rankovic], so to speak, to itself." Discussion of the state security service, both in Yugoslavia and all other communist-ruled countries, is taboo. Everyone knew of its activities, but nobody discussed them publicly. It is not Marxism, nor Leninism, nor any other ideology that in practice controls a communist-ruled country; it is the state security services that, supported by the army, bear the greatest responsibility for such a country's integrity. After Rankovic's purge a special commission was created to investigate the errors made by the UDBA forces, especially Rankovic's followers. A member of this six-man commission, Croatia's party leader Mika Tripalo--also purged in 1971--quoted an unnamed Rankovic aide as saying during his interrogation in July 1966: The history of intelligence services throughout the centuries shows that people with faults and defects are very susceptible to being recruited as foreign agents. This is why it is the duty of the appropriate state security services to prevent this by eavesdropping and by employing other methods.  As long as Rankovic and his collaborators eavesdropped upon people suspected of having been "foreign agents," none of the Yugoslav leaders considered them "too powerful." After they discovered that Rankovic had eavesdropped not only upon all leading party and state leaders but also on Tito himself, they came to the conclusion that Rankovic had really gone too far. Tripalo, who six years later was also proclaimed "too powerful" in Croatia, said that, although there were many people who clearly saw through ------------------------- (4) Danas (Zagreb), 16 August 1983. (5) Praxis, no. 3-4, May-August 1972, pp. 375-398. (6) Vjesnik u Srijedu (Zagreb), 7 September 1966. [page 4] RAD BR/205 Rankovic's activities, the CC members were shocked by "a monstrous system" that had little to do with confidence, or the lack of it, in individuals. What shocked all of them was "a system based on the concept that people should be controlled and held in permanent checkmate." Tripalo revealed that the investigative commission had discovered that Rankovic had secretly taped the entire March 1962 Politburo meeting, at which party leaders had talked openly. Rankovic ordered the UDBA to tape the proceedings on long-lasting tapes, four copies of which were found in the UDBA headquarters in Belgrade, This had been a "real plot," Tripalo said, one element being "the exacerbation of the problem of [Tito's] succession." In some parts of Yugoslavia the UDBA apparatus was used not only for the collection of information but also to spread information supporting Rankovic, which was then repeated to the leadership. "Little" Rankovics Still Exist. In addition to installing microphones in Tito's private apartment, Rankovic also had them placed in the apartment house in Belgrade, near Tito's palace, where republican and provincial party secretaries lived while in Belgrade. What led to Rankovic's downfall? The fact that Rankovic, a Serb, had complete control over the secret police forces in Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia, but not in Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, caused his fall. Croatia's and Slovenia's UDBA departments were closer to the Croatian leaders in Zagreb and the Slovenian leaders in Ljubljana than to Rankovic. So his orders to his collaborators in Zagreb and Ljubljana were not kept secret but were immediately revealed to the Croatian and Slovenian party and state leaders. After they had collected sufficient evidence about Rankovic, they informed Tito; and he acted promptly. Rankovic himself cut a poor figure at the July 1966 plenum, when he admitted that he considered himself "incapable of occupying such a senior post and incapable of formulating any policy." At that time Rankovic's confession was considered a trick, because, as Tripalo commented, Rankovic and his group "were not political illiterates." Tripalo himself, however, who warned against "many little Rankovics" throughout the country, also became the victim of a Rankovic - type purge five and a half years later. According to Professor Radonjic, today, too, "even young officials" have done things "that smell a little of certain Stalinist methods." Professor Stojanovic explained this dilemma, which exists not only in Yugoslavia but also in all communist-ruled countries, as follows: The armed socialist revolution is ethically based on the admission that, in a world full of violence, sometimes nothing can help but violence. As long as it counters violence with violence it is ethically in order. A consistent revolutionary must [page 5] RAD BR/205 repeatedly ask himself: first, is he trying to employ violence only in the measure it is really inescapable? Secondly, is he aware of the fact that violence, regardless of how carefully it is employed ... carries in itself the ethical traps into which the revolution might fall?; and, thirdly, against whom is violence used? Without this self control, revolutionary violence might turn into self satisfying and sadistic cruelty.  Rankovic had fallen into this "ethical trap" of the revolution, because, like many of his colleagues, he was not able to determine for how long and to what extent "revolutionary violence" should be used. He did, however, demonstrate a feeling for reality when, having been purged and sent into retirement with a very high pension enabling him to buy a villa in Dubrovnik, he refused to write any books and reveal anything about his former comrades. Unlike Milovan Djilas, who did quite the opposite and consequently spent almost 10 years in prison, Rankovic concentrated on enjoying life. He had no real followers, although there are many "little Rankovics" in Yugoslavia today who long for authoritarian government and insist that the party should again take everything into its own hands. The chief cource of Rankovic's almost unlimited power, as expressed at the fourth CC plenum by the Politburo member Svetozar Vukmanovic-Tempo, was that Rankovic "had the function of the party's Organizational Secretary." This is how Rankovic held the whole party in the palm of his hand. This means that he not only had the opportunity to plant microphones in the offices and dwellings of his colleagues (including Tito) but, even more important, he could assign his own people, usually from the UDBA, to all important positions. He was in Yugoslavia what Andropov was in the Soviet Union before Brezhnev died with the difference that Andropov succeeded Brezhnev, while Rankovic was purged by Tito. Both in Tito's lifetime and also after his death in May 1980, several party functionaries from Slovenia and Croatia have not missed any opportunity to attack certain tendencies toward centralism as "Rankovicism," since Rankovic was a symbol of a regime ruled by an "iron hand." The Albanians in Kosovo mostly suffered from Rankovic's "iron hand" and will hardly be shaken by the news of his sudden death. The present strength of Yugoslavia's state security service under the command of the Slovene Stane Dolanc, is in no way weaker than it was under Rankovic. In some ways its activities have become more extensive, both inside the country and abroad; and with Tito's death the UDBA became perhaps more important than ever before. -end- ----------------------------- (7) Praxis, no. 1, January-February 1966, pp. 75-76.
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