Andrija Hebrang

Chronology of life and disappearance of Andrija Hebrang

Contract killing






Contract killing


Party Verdict

"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

to death.

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

in Cyrillic.

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.

They failed.

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.

Andrija Hebrang

Last Interview?

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:

0-3 hrs   There is nothing new. All prisoners were asleep.
3-6 hrs   All asleep. There is nothing new.
6-9 hrs   Breakfast served around 7 hrs. Afterwards prisoners allowed to use the toilet and wash. Before using the toilet "Lala" (Žujović) asked for a broom to clean the room. The request was granted. There was nothing new, no changes.
9-12 hrs   Change of duty in order. Sremac (Andrija) went to an interrogation around 1030 hrs, before that Sremac and Lala received clean laundry. Lala walked around the whole time, smoking several cigarettes. The prisoner from 43 returned from an interrogation around 10 hrs, when he was shaved. Nothing else new. The telephone has been out of order for a week. It should be repaired.
12-15 hrs   Change of duty in order. Sremac lunched at 1230 hrs. After lunch he drank water, went to the toilet. He then lay in bed, reading Marx' "Capital". Lala lit a cigarette after lunch and lay in bed, did not sleep. Note: starting today Sremac is to receive 20 cigarettes for two days. It was approved that he may read "Capital" and some other books we would give him. Comrades are advised to be alert regarding the prisoners. (Prison governor Major Pavle Baljevic)
15-18 hrs   Change of duty in order. Sremac lay in bed until 1745, then got up and walked with a cigarette in his mouth. Lala was lying down, lit two cigarettes and walked. Those in room 38 lay in bed and worked, 40 lay in bed, 42 wrote something all the time, 43 was lying down and walked.
18-21 hrs   Change of duty in order, supper served at 7.20 PM. Nothing of significance happened while on duty. Lala had supper and afterwards lay in bed fully clothed. Lit two cigarettes. Got up at 21 hrs and walked. Sremac went to the investigator. Gave him 10 cigarettes. He didn't light any during time on duty, I didn't even see him smoking. He appears to chew and eat it. Returning from the investigator walked from wall to wall, fully clothed, the whole time.
21-24 hrs   Change of duty in order. There were no significant changes. Sremac taken to be interrogated at 21 hrs, there until duty was over. Prisoner from room 43 taken to be interrogated by the general around 2130 hrs. Returned at 23 hrs. Lay in bed at 2330.
0-3 hrs   Sremac was interrogated until 1 AM, was then taken out of the building, others were all asleep.
...   Sremac did not come back

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.