Andrija Hebrang

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Defence Before the State Court for the Protection of the State in Belgrade

 

The state prosecutor of the Belgrade State Court for the Protection

of the State, Nikola Manojlovic (ManojloviŠ), on 25 September 1929 filed an

indictment against Andrija Hebrang and four communists from the

investigating detention centre of the Zagreb District Court.

The indictment against Andrija claims that:

1.   certain communist documents were found on him;
2.  

he authored the text "Work Plan", a guideline for the

organisation of communist units;

3.  

together with Vranes and Horvaj he obtained and distributed

certain communist literature, wrote and made copies of various

communist leaflets, resolutions, circular letters, for the purpose

of spreading communism and convincing others of the need to change

the political and social order in our state through violence or any

form of terrorism;

4.  

he returned to Zagreb before the five-year banishment period had

expired.

 

Defence of Andrija Hebrang, 11 November 1929, 12-page manuscript:

 

The state prosecutor accuses me of mainly two things: the envelope

and its contents, and some work plan that was found in Vranes's

trunk, which the indictment claims was written by me. Because the

indictment focuses on those two points, I shall limit myself to

them, because I have no connection with the other claims in the

indictment, which I am confident will be established during these

proceedings. If I manage to refute the allegations in the

indictment regarding the work plan, I shall have devalued the other

incriminating items which are ascribed to me and are in close

connection with the supreme prosecutor's thesis that the work plans

in question was written by me.

I did not know nor had any relations with the other indicted persons

the indictment connects me with, so I did not nor could have had any

part in the activities the indictment imputes to them. After this

statement, there remains only the envelope charging me, the one

that was found in my pocket during the arrest. I shall, therefore,

first speak about that, how I got it, to later focus on the work plan

and the other related things.

On the day in question, September 7 last year, I arrived in Zagreb

around seven in the morning, aboard the Osijek train. In Zagreb I

intended to finish some private business, and in the evening

proceed to Belgrade, where I had some business commitments. Upon

arriving at the station, I headed straight for my sister's

apartment to rest and freshen up. Later, I went into town to do what

I had come to Zagreb for.

On July 8 last year, the Zagreb police banished me from Zagreb for

five years. Because the police had not given me an opportunity to

arrange my things and previous commitments, I was forced to stop in

Zagreb and see to those commitments which could no longer be

postponed.

On my way to see the companies that I had business commitments with

before being banished, I arrived at the university, where I believe

some university youth assembly was being held. I stopped for a

moment to hear what was going on. A few seconds later I was

unexpectedly joined by Vranes, who asked when and whence I had come.

After we exchanged a few words, I said that I was in a hurry as I had a

lot of things to do before the evening, and that if he wanted to, we

could meet in the evening, after I had finished with my business.

Our conversation lasted about five minutes. I left after we

arranged to meet again in front of the Theatre between seven and

eight pm. In the afternoon, having finished my business, I sat on a

tram going to the Theatre, arriving there at the agreed time. Riding

on the tram, I reached the corner of Ilica and Frankopanska Street,

where the tram tracks turn towards the Theatre. On the corner, by

the "Croatia" cafe where the tram stop is, there was a large group of

people. When the tram stopped some people from the group got on,

while some remained at the stop. In the tram, I had been discussing

the latest political developments with two gentlemen. As soon as

the tram started, I heard someone calling me. Turning around, I

noticed that a man, whom I had seen before, was running down the

tram, offering me an envelope. As I had been standing on the

platform of the last carriage, I reached forward and took the

envelope. I glanced at the envelope in the hope of seeing by the

handwriting who was writing to me. Nothing was written on it so I

asked who had sent it to me. At that moment, the tram accelerated,

leaving the man behind. Owing to the noise of the tram and the

distance between us, I was unable to understand what he was saying.

His lips were moving so I knew he was saying something. I think he

said: put it away! I put the envelope in my pocket, resuming the

conversation with the two gentlemen all the way to the Theatre,

where I descended. Having come out of the tram I found Vranes

already waiting in front of the Theatre with a newspaper under his

arm. We immediately agreed to have dinner together. Talking, we

arrived at the restaurant where we had decided to have dinner. After

dinner we stayed at the restaurant for about two hours, talking and

reading newspapers. We left the restaurant about half past nine,

slowly walking to the central station. When we were close to his

apartment, he invited me to stop at 50 Gunduliceva (GunduliŠeva) Street to see if

his fiancÚe had returned from Maribor, where she had gone to visit

her sick mother at the hospital. When leaving for Maribor, she said

she would be back at five in the afternoon, and if she failed to

catch that train, she would be back at ten in the evening. He also

said that if his fiancÚe had not returned he would walk me to the

station and wait there for the train from Maribor. We stopped at the

apartment for a couple of minutes before heading for the station. On

the way to the station, only 150 feet from the apartment,

detectives, without uttering a word, grabbed us from behind, saying

we were under arrest. Since none of them knew me, they inquired who I

was. As soon as I answered, they immediately searched me, taking my

wallet with money inside, identity papers, and several business

letters together with the envelope I had received in the tram and

had still not opened. Detective Cividini put the things taken from

me in his pocket. We were then taken to Vranes's apartment, which

they searched. As soon as the envelope had been taken from me,

detective Cividini asked me what it was, to which I replied what I

had reiterated before. Upon arriving at the apartment, the

detectives immediately began with the search. I stayed in the room

with detective Pavlovic (PavloviŠ), while Vrans went to the other rooms with

the other two. After they completed the search, we stayed at the

apartment for another half hour, waiting for the arrival of

Vranes's fiancÚe.The train was late and the detectives were bored

with the waiting, so they decided we should leave the apartment.

They ordered the sister of Vranes's fiancÚe to wait for her sister

and then to both come to the police station. After that decision

Cividini left the apartment, returning a while later with a police

car which took us to the police. During the ride, the detectives sat

in front with the driver, while Vranes and I were locked in the back

with a guard. Having arrived at the station, the detectives

hesitated as to what and how to begin. In the room we were in there

were many books and other things they had recently confiscated, so

they had to make a little room on the tables. They then started

taking things out of the trunk, placing them on the tables, to make

it easier to list things. That took quite some time, as the trunk

contained many things, including some the detectives were unable to

read. Vranes's fiancÚe and her sister arrived only around midnight

because the Maribor train had been very late. They had to wait for

another half hour until the things were listed. When this was over

the detectives gave us the records for signing. We signed the records 

without a word, as did Anka and Julka Saban (Őaban) as witnesses. 

I take this opportunity to point out that while signing the records, I

had not been shown the contents of the envelope, nor had the

witnesses. My record of the search had been written by Cividini at

the same table which contained the stuff from Vranes's trunk. The

table was 3-4 metres away from me, so when he opened the envelope I

could not see what he took out of it. The two of us were placed in

custody around half past midnight, while the Saban sisters were let

to go home.

Signing the record I noticed that all the things listed could not

have been in the envelope found on me as its thickness indicated

that it contained one piece of paper. I, nevertheless, decided to

sign the record to avoid a beating, which at that time the Zagreb

police gave profusely. I also did that because detective Novak had

beaten Vranes during the arrest, and because when the apartment was

being searched, we were threatened, in front of Julka Saban, that we

would be beaten as soon as we arrived at the police. I decided to

sign the record because I believed that I would defend myself in

court easily. Not every legal formality had been met during the

search and the listing of things. The detective had not opened the

envelope in front of me and the witnesses or stated what it

contained, and ultimately, he had carried it in his pocket when he

had left the apartment and gone to get the car. These were all

decisive factors which made me sign the search record. A few days

before my arrest, the press brought daily reports from all major

centres about searches and closures of workers' union

organisations, about seizures of archives, arrests and

persecutions of union officials and workers, etc. In those days, as

I had learned from the newspapers, the Zagreb police had been

searching union organisations. It was only 4-5 days after my

arrest, when I was interrogated for the first time, that I realised

what the police intended to do. During that interrogation, which

was done by chief detective Rimay, things did not go as smoothly as

with the search record. While interrogating me, Rimay held a

written piece of paper and asked me who it belonged to. He also

mentioned the names of some people that I do not know. When he

inquired about the envelope, I told him what I said here before. He

then wrote a record of the interrogation, without asking me

anything. Before signing it, I asked him to read it to me. I was

surprised to hear that the record mentioned things which had not

been discussed at all and which I had not said. The chief detective

said in the record that all the things on me, i.e. in the envelope,

belonged to union organisations. It is understandable that I could

not sign such a record, firstly because the contents of the envelope

had not been shown to me, and secondly because I did not know what

was in it and who had written it. It all became clear to me then. The

whole procedure with the envelope and its alleged contents, as well

as the one with the interrogation, showed what the police intended

to do and I decided not to be a weapon in their hands. It was clear to

me that the police were using the alleged contents of the envelope

and my confession to compromise the workers' unions, on the one hand

to be able to somehow justify the frequent and harsher

persecutions, and on the other to use such a confession to break the

workers' organisations. I signed the search record because it

mainly concerned myself, but I could not sign this one which

attacked union organisations through me. I could not assume the

responsibility for the break-up of the unions, so I decided not to

sign such an interrogation record no matter what. I noticed that the

chief detective had paid no attention at all to the other part of the

interrogation, so I focused on the part of the interrogation which

concerned the unions. He insisted that I sign the record without

reservations, saying that that stance on the unions was not that

important. His insisting only heightened my suspicion and

reinforced my decision not to sign. We then argued for some time

about the interrogation, with the chief detective trying to extort

my signature through diplomacy more than through force. Seeing my

determination, he agreed to cross over what he had written about the

unions, provided that the rest of the record be not changed. When

that item was crossed, I signed.

After a sixteen-day police custody I was transferred to the court,

where I learned from the newspapers that the day after my arrest,

Julka and Ana Saban had been imprisoned. They were detained for

about ten days, during which time the police used all means to

extort a confession that would charge me. The police tried to make

them say that I had been coming to Vranes's apartment frequently to

write something. Given that I had been at his apartment only once,

on the night in question, they could not falsely accuse me, despite

all the efforts on the part of the police.

Upon being turned over to the court, I expected that the whole

affair with the envelope and the material would be cleared up. Four

or five days after being turned over to the court, I was

interrogated by the investigating judge, who ruled imprisonment.

The envelope with the paper inside it was not shown to me on that

occasion either, only some other things that have nothing to do with

me. I maintained that the imprisonment had been ruled without valid

grounds, so I demanded that the court decide. The court, however,

confirmed the investigating judge's decision, and I remained in

prison until today.

Even though my investigation took forever, for almost ten months I

did not know why the police and the state prosecutor were

persecuting me. From the questions the investigating judge had

asked me I could not understand what I was being suspected of, even

more so given that all the material that had been shown to me had

neither been found on me nor had I ever seen it before. I remember

that while I was being shown the other things, I was asked about the

envelope as well. I answered that an envelope had been found on me

but that I did not know what was inside it because the police had not

shown its contents to me.

The district court investigation took about three months and was

wrapped up a few days before Christmas, when the complete

investigation material was forwarded to the state prosecutor's

office, so that it could file an indictment. I expected that the

whole thing would soon be over. But a few days after the

investigation material had been forwarded to the state

prosecutor's office, the state court was established. The laws

relating to the establishment of that court became retroactive and

my case was forwarded to Belgrade, which is how my investigation

took fourteen whole months.

And only after 5-6 months after this material had been forwarded to

this court was I interrogated by Mr. Kopcec (KopŠec), the investigating

judge. It was only then that I found out what I was suspected of.

Alongside many things, I was shown the transcript of some papers

that, according to the police, had been in the envelope. I

reiterated what I had said during the first interrogation about the

envelope. Reading it I realised that it contained the item about the

union organisations which in the original record had been crossed

out. Noticing that, I immediately informed the investigator that

the transcript of the interrogation was not faithful to the

original. Since I apodictically claimed so, the investigator had

the original record brought in. Comparing the two, he saw that my

claims were true. At my request that the record officially state

that the transcript of the police interrogation contained what in

the original had been crossed out, the investigator entered the

result of the comparison into the record. When the interrogation

done by the investigator of this court mentioned the envelope, I

stated that neither I nor the witnesses had seen its contents at the

police. I also demanded that if I were not believed, the witnesses

who signed the search record should be interviewed. I do not know if

they were interviewed or not because I had no contact with them.

The state prosecutor, explaining my statement in the verdict, says

that it is untrue and contradictory. The state prosecutor, however,

refers only to some sections of my interrogation which, if taken out

of the whole, may corroborate the charges. Indeed so, when those

sections are separated from the whole interrogation and viewed as

such, disregarding the rest, then it is not difficult to draw a

conclusion similar to the one reached by the state prosecutor. If,

however, my entire statement is taken into consideration, and the

envelope and the circumstances in which I got it, then it is certain

that a conclusion entirely opposite to the one arrived at by the

state prosecutor must be reached. Here I have said mainly

everything I intended to regarding the arrest and the envelope,

which leaves to me to briefly focus on the work plan.

I should firstly stress that during the entire investigation there

was no mention whatsoever about a work plan which the indictment

claims was written by me. Not only was it never mentioned during the

investigation, it was not mentioned by the district court when the

investigation was completed either. As I stated before, when the

investigation was over, the investigation material was forwarded

to the state prosecutor's office to press charges. At the very

beginning of the investigation several samples of my handwriting

were taken, but the court experts who examined them could not

establish that anything mentioned in the indictment had been

written by me. Because if they had reached a positive finding, the

investigating judge would have certainly informed me about it. Only

when I was given the indictment did I see that some work plan had

surfaced, and that since it had been found in Vranes's trunk,

attempts were made to impute it and the entire stuff found in the

trunk to me. The police investigation tried to establish if I had

been coming to Vranes's apartment frequently, to which end several

tenants from the building in question were called in to identify me.

Not one recognised me, nor had they ever seen me coming to Vranes's

apartment. Had been coming to that apartment often, or living

there, as the indictment claims, the police investigation would

certainly have established so, even if the apartment's owner had

denied it. Of so many tenants, some would certainly have seen me

coming there at least once. Their apartments are in the same hallway

as Vranes's and are about two metres apart. The caretaker, who knows

all the tenants in the building in question, said at the

identification that I had never lived in that apartment. As I had

not been to Zagreb at all between the day of my banishment and the

day I was arrested, and since I did not know that some communist

material was in Vranes's apartment, it is understandable that I had

nothing to with the things found there.

Even though the indictment claims that experts have established

that the work plan was written by me, I am pointing out that I have

never written any work plan, which precludes any possibility that

the handwriting is mine. But if experts have established that the

handwriting is indeed mine, they are mistaken, as the handwriting

in question appears to have some similarities to mine. If the

experts, contrary to my claim that I have never written any work

plan, have established that the handwriting in this case is mine, I

demand that my handwriting and the work plan be given to new

experts, who I am confident will prove my complete innocence in this

matter.

Last May I was turned over to the Zagreb district court together

with Vranes. On that occasion the police accused me of being the

president of the workers' signing club "Buducnost". The police

accused me in connection with the work of "Buducnost", alleging

that it was some sort of communist organisation. The court,

however, released me, after the investigation established that

"Buducnost" was a cultural-educational society which had nothing

to do with communism. When I was released, the police banished me

for five years.

Some work plan was mentioned on that occasion which, the police

claimed, had been found in Vranes's pocket during a search,

alongside "Young Bolshevik". That plan was supposed to serve as the

basis for allegations about "Buducnost's" communist activity. That

accusation by the police failed in court, as did the other ones,

since the police were unable to produce proof to back their claims

that a work plan had been found on Vranes. It caught my eye that in

the indictment, the state prosecutor claimed that "Young

Bolshevik" had been found on Vranes on May 6, while a work plan, on

which the police charges were based, was not mentioned at all.

From everything I said, it transpires that I have no connection with

the work plan, the material found in Vranes's apartment and the

other material mentioned in the indictment, nor with the activities

the indictment imputes to me.

If I am guilty of something, then it might be only in connection with

the envelope. This guilt, however, is very problematic, as it has

not yet been established what it actually contained. I am confident

that these proceedings will shed light on many as yet unclear

things, and that my complete innocence in this affair will be

proven.