Chronology of life and disappearance of Andrija Hebrang
"Hebrang and Crni, they are against me for Greater Serbia and
Ustasha motives! I cannot work differently at this post. I cannot
listen to everyone," Josip Broz said at a session of the Central
Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (CK KPJ) on 12 April
1948, while party propagandist Milovan Djilas stressed: "Hebrang
and Zujovic (Žujović) advocate waiting for unification with the USSR. They
would then rush headlong into socialism, while in the meantime they
would let capitalism take hold". After a series of
misunderstandings Andrija had in Belgrade with members of the
Politburo regarding the determination of Croatian borders, models
of economic development, and other vital issues, which were the
result of the party's animosity towards Andrija's initiatives for
the creation of a war-time Federal State of Croatia, the party
comrades decided he should be eliminated.
Tito made the decision himself, Djilas testified 30 years later.
The stage was set when Andrija's telephone was wire-tapped on 3
March 1948. According to the "Hebrang File", General Ivan Gosnjak
(Gošnjak), a close friend, on April 20 told Andrija to report to the party
commission at the CK KPJ. The commission informed him that it had
been decided that he and Crni would be under investigation in
connection with work in the economy and that he should not appear in
public until further notice.
Belgrade Radio reported in the evening hours of May 5 that Andrija
had been stripped of all public functions. The officer on duty
received an order to stay by the telephone all night and not let
anyone in the house.
Andrija, under house arrest, was taken to a party interrogation
somewhere on Fruska gora (Fruška) at six o'clock on 7 May 1948. He was
collected by General Ivan Gosnjak and two unidentified persons.
Following a brief "interrogation", the CK KPJ commission members
Blagoje Neskovic (Nešković - chairman) and Vida Tomsic (Tomšić) had a
report ready as early as May 8 - Andrija's party verdict.
Andrija rejected the party's accusations, eventually refusing to
speak any further. He did not sign the record.
In the Hands of the People's Authorities
The party commission proposed: 1. that Andrija Hebrang be ousted
from the Party as an anti-party and harmful element, as a slanderer
and a tool in the hands of the class enemy; 2. that Sreten Zujovic be
ousted from the Party as an inveterate factionalist, as an anti-
party element, as a slanderer and enemy of our Party and our
country; 3. given that A. Hebrang and S. Zujovic damaged the
interests of the people's state and of the working people, we
believe that competent bodies of the people's authorities should
examine their work.
Andrija was imprisoned in Glavnjaca, Udba's main prison in Serbia.
He was isolated from the outside world and from other prisoners. As
a result, he did not know that Olga Hebrang and Sreten Zujovic were
put in solitary confinement in Glavnjaca as well, as were later
several dozen innocent persons who had been arrested as "witnesses"
and "associates": Ljudevit Lujo Cacic (Čačić), Vladimir Frajtic, Margita
Frajtic, Mito Despotovic, Marica Djoic (Đoić), Bojan Kugler, Ahmet
Ljubijankic (Ljubijankić), Barica Opic (Opić), Bogdanka Rasic (Rašić),
Franciska Srebrenjak, Josip Saban (Šaban), Milan Zugelj (Žugelj), and
another dozen persons whose fate remains unknown. Ivica Skomrak,
Andrija's war-time escort, was arrested in Zagreb in November 1948.
He was a dangerous witness because he had survived Jasenovac.
Gaga, a teacher, committed suicide after a short time spent in
The commission's report was adopted at a Central Committee (CK)
session of 9 May 1948. It was ordered that Andrija be arrested.
The party's Croatian leadership supported the arrest, while the CK
issued a party resolution proposing that the traitor be sentenced
The Interior Ministry of the Federative People's Republic of
Yugoslavia (FNRJ) on May 18 ordered that Andrija be stripped of the
immunity he enjoyed as a republic and federal deputy. That same day
Andrija was informed that he was to be placed in custody and
subjected to criminal proceedings.
It was only on 27 October 1948, 172 days after the arrest, that FNRJ
public prosecutor Josif Malovic (Malović) ordered an investigation due to
criminal acts committed against the people and the state. It was
claimed that during the occupation, Andrija had committed acts
against the interests of the people in an Ustasha camp, that after
the liberation he sabotaged the Federal Government's policy,
obstructed preparations for and the implementation of the Five-
Year Plan, introducing the spirit of demoralisation, and that he
harangued against senior state leaders.
Investigation Without Results
Aleksandar Rankovic (Ranković), Interior Minister at the FNRJ Government, on
15 May 1948 appointed General Milorad Milatovic investigator.
Milatovic was head of administration at the Serbian State Security
Service (Udba). Mate Radulovic (Radulović), Berislav Zulj (Žulj), and
David Lausevic (Laušević) were assistant investigators.
Andrija's and several neighbouring cells were guarded around the
The Log Book begins on 17 May 1948. Guards would note the prisoners'
behaviour on an hourly basis. Andrija was named Sremac, probably
because of his advocacy during the post-war determination of
borders to have Srijem be part of Croatia.
The "Hebrang File" shows that there were two rounds of
interrogations. The first began on 31 May 1948. It lasted until 15
January 1949 and resulted in about 50 records. The second round
notes only one day, 9 June 1949.
In the first round of interrogations, Udba's strategy was based on
the party's Stalinist verdict, namely proving that Andrija had
collaborated with the Ustasha. Having failed to find documents
which would corroborate their thesis in the NDH archives, they
resorted to testimonies of imprisoned Ustasha and other prisoners.
Some of them did not accept Udba's "truth", while others, under
psychological and physical torture, agreed to cooperate. When
confronted with Andrija, these "witnesses" were unconvincing and
"unreliable" for the investigation. Vladimir Frajtic, witness
number one, was interrogated for a long time, consenting, under
duress, to testify falsely. He later changed his mind, earning a
death sentence at a secret political trial.
Considering that the "Hebrang File" is a collection of information
and misinformation, it is not certain that June 9 was the last day of
interrogation. Some "witnesses" testified as late as 1950!
Jasenovac Record in Cyrillic
The "investigation" failed to yield the wanted results or find a
witness to even one so-called accusation. Milatovic and comrades
were left with having to prepare "documents" about Andrija's
collaboration with the Ustasha by themselves. They prepared
several "documents". Especially interesting are records from the
camps Jasenovac, dated 14 June 1942, and Stara Gradiska, dated 20
June 1942. These served as proof of Andrija's "treason".
The Party and the media fabricated Andrija's "treason" using those
two papers for nearly four decades, even though they knew those
"documents" had been falsified, prepared for the sole purpose of
corroborating the party's sentence against Andrija Hebrang.
The first to warn that the records were forgeries was Zvonko
Ivankovic in the 1980s. He had analysed the records' form, contents
and language. In 1986 Yugoslav secret services said that arguments
claiming that Andrija had "signed" on to collaborate with the
Ustasha were naive and that there were no documents to corroborate
them. Ivankovic published his findings in a book in 1988. Ivan Jelic
warned that the records were forgeries in 1991, after the "Hebrang
File" was declassified: the original versions of both records were
Despite this unavoidable fact, which shows the utter
contemptibility of the Yugoslav regime, and the fact that the Party
is dead, so-called journalists from Zagreb and Belgrade, guided by
an invisible hand, continue to write about Andrija's "treason".
The latest headline with such overtones was published in the Zagreb
weekly "Globus". On 25 May 2001 the so-called journalist Dara
Janekovic was given room to reiterate the lies about Andrija's
"collaboration" with the Ustasha, despite the fact that new
documents, witnesses, and even investigator Milatovic claimed in
Belgrade-based print media that there had been no collaboration.
Kidnapping of "Witnesses"
Given that all attempts by Milatovic and the comrades to prove
Andrija's "treason" had failed, the investigation needed more time
to find new "witnesses" and "evidence". Interrogations were
discontinued between mid-January and 9 June 1949, during which time
Udba frantically looked for "witnesses" and new "treason"
How to find new "witnesses"?
In February 1949 the Yugoslav police kidnapped Austrian citizen
Eugen von Pott, an intelligence officer at the headquarters of
Glaise von Horstenau, German general plenipotentiary in Croatia,
in the hope of extorting an admission to Andrija's dishonourable
conduct and collaboration with the Germans.
Milatovic's last hope was the testimony of Drago Jilek, who had
briefly been commander of the Ustasha Surveillance Service (UNS).
Milatovic, and Vladimir Dedijer later, saw him as important due to
alleged documents against Andrija contained in the so-called Jilek
satchel. Yugoslav agents kidnapped Jilek in Rome on 16 March 1949,
handing him over at Glavnjaca, where he was prepared for testifying
about Andrija's collaboration with the Ustasha. Jilek initially
claimed he knew nothing about it, but in May 1950 he stated that
Andrija had made a commitment to work for the UNS. Jilek signed his
statement with the pseudonym Drago Duvnjakovic (Duvnjaković). He
was not confronted with Andrija. As far as is known he was not put
on trial and was probably killed at Glavnjaca.
Milatovic resumed interrogating Andrija on 9 June 1949, demanding
an admission about the record from the Stara Gradiska camp. The
victim was again stronger and admitted to almost nothing of what the
"investigation" had proffered in the forged record. In the book
"The Andrija Hebrang Case" Milatovic claims that he broke Andrija
and that Andrija committed suicide by hanging himself from a
radiator in the night of June 10-11. Milatovic and the comrades once
again found a simple solution: they forged the death record.
The record claims that Andrija committed suicide by hanging on a
radiator on 11 June 1949.
What did actually happen that night?
We do not know the full truth as all sources of information from that
time are unavailable. Based on information from the "Hebrang File"
and witness testimonies the only certain thing is that Andrija was
not at Glavnjaca that night and the following days and that there
were no radiators in that infamous prison. Before the "Hebrang
File" was opened former Glavnjaca prisoners stated there were no
radiators, which is also clear from notes of officers on duty who
determined when the furnaces would be stoked!
The Andrija Hebrang Log Book of June 9 and 10 reads:
Udba officers made the same entry in the log book on the following
days as well. Andrija had disappeared...
The Heroes of Glavnjaca
Andrija Hebrang did not admit to any claim in the "indictment" and
investigation time was turned into imprisonment during which he was
subjected to psychological and physical torture, denied the right
to a defence and an attorney, completely isolated.
Udba's strategy relied on the imperative admission of guilt as
imposed by party documents which were to prove that the whole
proceeding was justified and provide sufficient evidence for the
judiciary. Andrija admitted to nothing they charged him with.
General Milorad Milatovic, his superiors Broz, Rankovic,
Stefanovic, adviser Milovan Djilas and the comrades were at a loss as
to how to find new witnesses and force them to testify falsely, how
to prepare a new forgery which Andrija would believe in and,
according to as yet unchecked information, how to force the Supreme
Court judges to try a "traitor" without valid evidence. Milatovic
and the comrades were enmeshed in a web of forgeries, they lost
orientation in the times and names of the Ustasha, placing some
events in fabricated documents as having occurred on non-working
days and appointing some Ustasha officers to posts which did not
exist. Yet the party's task had to be carried out!
The party leaders used Stalinist methods to eliminate adversaries:
confession, witnesses, and fabricated evidence if necessary. They
used the models of purges carried out in communist countries,
having been successful at it until June 1948. They were all the more
surprised by the atypical conduct of Croats and Croatian Serbs who
would not agree to perjure themselves even after being tortured by
the Party and Udba.
Broz, Rankovic, Djilas and the comrades had not counted on the high
moral integrity of witnesses who, following the Bible, chose pain,
torture, humiliation, who from "witnesses" became the accused and
prisoners, who defended the truth with their lives. They became the
heroes of Glavnjaca.
The masters of crime could not go back.
Admission to the murder 50 years later?
What happened to Andrija?
More than half a century has passed since the events described at
Glavnjaca in 1949, yet the disappearance and death of Andrija
Hebrang remain a secret.
The first version, mentioning death by hanging from a radiator,
promulgated by Djilas and Milatovic, was refuted in the 1980s. In
the following years, however, the lie factories of spies and journalists
would systematically launch a new version of Andrija’s demise,
mostly on the trace of the first one, to increase entropy, make it
difficult for researchers to find the truth and delay the revelation of
the names of those who ordered and executed the crime. The
democratic regimes failed to stop officials who were active in
previous, contested regimes from holding important posts in current
regimes in Croatia and Serbia, or to rehabilitate the victims of the
communist authorities. The crimes have remained only a victims’
When the normalisation of Croatia-Serbia relations began, sleepers
awakened on both sides. In his book Tito’s Last Confession, published
in Belgrade in 2001, Udba’s former agent-journalist Vjenceslav Cencic
(Cenčić) offered a new version of Andrija’s demise – he had been
taken to a hospital and given a lethal injection.
Had the comrades confessed to the murder?
Or is the truth even more horrible?
The main figures in Andrija Hebrang’s disappearance are gone: Josip
Broz, Milovan Djilas, Aleksandar Rankovic, Svetislav Stefanovic,
Vladimir Dedijer, Miodrag Milatovic and other important comrades.
Perhaps one of them has left a note about Andrija’s demise?
Aleksa Djilas claims he did not find any notes by his father "and I
doubt that he knew anything else than what he published in his post-
war memoirs" (from his letter of October 2, 2002)
Djordje Milatovic said in a telephone conversation on October 25,
2002 that he had found some of his father's papers but he had not yet
had time to read them.