He was a member of the Poliburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (CKKPJ) in 1948 and had been the leader of the Party’s faction against Andrija Hebrang since the war. A staunch Bolshevik during wartime, he was known for the executions of those who thought differently, which he himself would later write about. He was especially active in stigmatising Andrija as an “Ustasha, German and Soviet spy”. Prone to writing, he initiated the writing of Milatovic’s book The Case of Andrija Hebrang.
He left the Party in the mid-1950s, becoming a dissident who was imprisoned several times.
Djilas’ wife Stefica (Štefica) said that Andrija had not been murdered, but his death is the most horribe thing imaginable… (from Vasilije Kalezic’s Djilas – Pet and Renegade of Communism).
She did not answer a letter from Olga Hebrang. She did, however, telephone Olga on 10 October 1989, but during the half-hour conversation refused to explain what she had meant when she made that statement about Andrija’s demise. Olga told her about the unsuccessful attempts made to find the place where he was buried. Stefica said she had told Djilas:
If I knew where that grave is, I would tell Olga.
You’re crazy, Djilas replied.
Pavle Kalinic, the author of Andrija Hebrang: the Witnesses Speak, tried to extract the truth about Andrija’s demise in a telephone conversation with Djilas: Since I was quite stubborn, Djilas, in an attempt to end the conversation, at one moment said he knew exactly how Hebrang died. However, he declined to reveal the truth.
Štefica Djilas rang Branko Hebrang on 6 April 1990 in connection with a letter sent to her husband Milovan.
My husband is old, he’s blind in one eye and can barely see with the other. He wrote everything he knew about your father. He doesn’t know anything else. Your father wasn’t murdered, he died. When I spoke about that, I meant that death is horrible…
I want to talk, there’s no need to be afraid. Djilas certainly knows more, one can find out more in a conversation.
There’s no reason why you two shouldn’t talk. I wouldn’t like the shadows of your fathers to stand between you and my son.
After the second letter, dated May 5, Milovan Djilas telephoned:
The letter is rude. You are warning me to be a man, which means that I wasn’t one before. You write as though I were on the defendant’s bench… A lot of time has passed, I don’t remember.
A man, however, remembers crucial moments…
Yes, he does. Look into the Party’s documents. There should be something there.
Will you answer questions?
No, I will not. That would be all.