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Tito and his People (8)

A Democratic Constitution

Finally, in its heroic little capital, Jajce, the program for a full democracy was finally worked out and in its completed form held the following important points:

"1. The Anti-Fascist Vece for the people's liberation of Yugoslavia should be transformed into the supreme legislative and executive body and become the highest and sole representative of the sovereignty of the Yugoslav peoples. The anti-Fascist Vece, endowed with all the attributes of a people's government, should constitute a national committee for the liberation of Yugoslavia. With the help of the people the Anti-Fascist Vece will carry out its executive functions.

"2. The treacherous Yugoslav government must be deprived of all its rights as the legitimate government of Yugoslavia – in particular of the right to represent the peoples of Yugoslavia.

"3. All international agreements concluded and all obligations undertaken by the government-in-exile on behalf of Yugoslavia must be reconsidered with a view to correcting or approving them. No international agreements or obligations concluded by the so-called Yugoslav government-in-exile will be recognized.

"4. As a nation, Yugoslavia is founded on a democratic and federative principle and champions equal rights for all peoples."


Not only were the Partisans holding political conventions and laying the foundations for the machinery of government, but there was a congress of doctors and medical workers of the Yugoslav guerrilla and volunteer army held on liberated soil as early as September 25, 1942.

The chairman was the famous Serbian, Dr. Simo Miloshevich, one time professor of medicine: at the University of Belgrade. Fifty doctors and many nurses as well as ambulance field drivers, came in spite of the hazards of travel.

Here they discussed army surgery, ambulance service of the guerrilla army, first aid to the sick and wounded and health protection of the population in liberated areas. Surgeons reported how wounds had been treated and operations performed without proper medicine and hospital facilities.

Louis Adamic, in his authoritative book, "My Native Land," tells of yet another interesting conference that took place.

"In September, 1942, Serbian Orthodox priests and seminary students serving in the various Partisan brigades, men who fought as well as prayed, held a conference in Bosanaska Krayana and sent a message to 'the people in the occupied and liberated territories and over free Yugoslavia to the outside world: '. . . Through many centuries there have not been witnessed such crimes as the (recent) slaughter of Serbians . . . by the advocates of the New Order in Europe, such crimes as those committed by the Fascists in the sixteen months of their occupation of Yugoslavia. There is no possible justification for the collaboration with occupationists of any Orthodox bishop or priest or any other Serbian.

" 'Collaboration with the Axis, now practised by some bishops and priests, is a crime; it is treachery to the people, and we disown them for it.... We likewise dissociate ourselves from the White Guard emigre, the self-styled Metropolitan Hermogenus, Pavelich's head of the Croatian Orthodox Church, who sows confusion and belittles the Orthodox faith. Such is the point of view of our congress – the only point of view that conforms with our Church's traditions.

" '. . . We express deep esteem for those priests who died, arms in hand, fighting against the occupationists and their lackeys, the traitors to the people, the Ustashi and Chetniks. We similarly express appreciation for those martyrs of the church, the metropolitans, bishops and priests who have been tortured to death by the Germans, Italians, Ustashi and Chetniks.

" 'The priests serving with the guerrilla units, accompanying the victorious brigades in liberated parts of Yugoslavia, have regenerated the religious life of the Serbian people. Wrecked and desecrated churches have been restored, cleansed and sanctified. Tens of thousands of children have been baptized. Tens of thousands who were killed in battle or tortured to death have been accorded Christian burial. Hundreds of new homes have been blessed. Many thousands have received Holy Communion.

" 'Never before have Serbian priests been closer to the people and the people to them than they are today in liberated territory. The people and the clergy pledge themselves to do all in their power to prevent religious differences from being the apple of discord among south Slavic nations.

" '(We) appeal to the Catholic and Moslem clergy to join their peoples who are swelling the ranks of the guerrillas.... In this sacred liberation war our peoples have forged their brotherhood with the peoples of the Soviet Union and with all who are enslaved and freedom-loving.

" 'We reject and condemn the fratricidal war being conducted by the Chetniks of Drazha Mik hailovich jointly with the occupationists against the sons and daughters of the Yugoslav people . . . against the guerrillas.

" '. . . God and the people are with us. Death to Fascism! Liberty to the people'!"

And while on the home front, statesmen, churchmen and others were laying the basis for a fuller democracy, Tito and his forces were clearing the land of the invader and helping to make this democracy a reality.


We have familiarized ourselves with the life and struggle of the Yugoslav people and their great leader, Marshal Tito. Here and there other names have come up, men who from the very beginning, sided with the people in their struggle for liberation. Who are these men and what role did they play in Yugoslavia before the war and in what capacity are they serving at the present time?

Perhaps next in importance to Tito, stands Dr. Ivan Ribar. He is 62 years of age, a wealthy Croat lawyer who lived in a palatial home in Belgrade. Perhaps his humble surroundings today are quite a comedown for a man accustomed to so much of the comforts of life. But home is where the heart is and Ribar's heart is in the Liberation Movement.

His palatial home was destroyed by the Nazis. All his art treasures, books and worldly goods went down in flames, but personal tragedy never deterred him from the cause that he has his heart set on.

A few days after the Germans occupied the country, Tito met Dr. Ivan Ribar in a Belgrade flat and while Nazis patrolled the streets with guns and truncheons, the Liberation Movement was born.

An interesting sidelight on their present association is the fact that Ribar was a leader of the democratic party that dissolved the Yugoslav Communist party in 1924. This shows how widely divergent were the views of these two men who today lead Yugoslavia's struggle for liberation – one a Communist, the other a Conservative Democrat. And yet in their country's hour of trial, both buried their partisan differences and in their common struggle found a common goal.

Today he is president of the Presidium of the Anti-Fascist Council of National Liberation.

A few of the others are:

Edvard Kardelj, vice-president; Slovene; teacher from Ljubljana; Communist; was for many years in prison for his political activities; a well-known publicist and contributor to the review Sobodnost.

Vladislav Ribnikar, vice-president; Serb Commissioner for Information; former chief editor and co-proprietor of the leading newspaper Politika; 43; graduated at the Ecole des Beaux Arts Paris; independent.

Bozhidar Magovats, vice-president; born in Karlovac; 35; Croat; member of the Croat Peasant party; former editor of Dom, official weekly of this party.

Dr. Josip Smodlaka, Commissioner for Foreign Affairs; Croat from Split; 70; friend of Masaryk of Czechoslovakia; M.P. for Dalmatia in the Vienna Parliament before the first World War; collaborator of Svetozar Pribichevich, Dr. Trumbich and Stjepan Radich; when Austria declared war on Serbia was imprisoned because of pro-Serbian feelings; in 1918 headed the provincial government of Dalmatia; in the same year became member of the National Council of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs in Zagreb; in 1919 member of the Yugoslav delegation at the Versailles Peace Conference; Yugoslav minister to the Vatican and in Madrid.

Reverend Vlado Zechevich; Serb; Commissioner for Internal Affairs; Orthodox priest from Krupanj, Serbia; when guerrilla movement originated in Serbia in summer, 1941, commanded a detachment of Chetniks, but after the treachery of Drazha Mikhailovich went over to the Partisans; in autumn, 1941, was commander of a guerrilla battalion; member of the H.Q. of the N.L.A.. It was Zechevich who saved Tito's life at the Battle of Green Mountain when he was surrounded by Germans.

Edvard Kotsbek; Slovene; Christian Socialist party; vice-president of the executive committee of the Liberation Front of Slovenia; well-known Slovene poet and essayist; member of the P.E.N. club; Professor of French Language and Literature; born in Styria; founder of Christian Socialist; review Dejanja (Action).

Ivan Milutinovich, Commissioner for Agriculture; Montenegrin; economist specialist in agrarian questions; Communist.

Dushan Sernets, Commissioner for Finance; Slovene; member of the Slovene Popular Party (Catholic); former Minister in the Belgrade government; former governor of Slovenia.

Sreten Zhuyevich-Tsrni, Commissioner for Transport; Serb from Belgrade; Communist; distinguished himself in the guerrilla organization.

Milivoy Yambrishak, Commissioner for Public Health; Croat; 70; M.D. from Karlovac; member of the Yugoslav Committee in London during the last World War; collaborator of Trumbich; in 1917 was delegate of the Yugoslav Committee to the Russian government.

Todor Vuyashinovich, Commissioner for Economic Reconstruction; Serb from Bosnia, former official of the Social Insurance Office in Tuzla.

Dr. Anton Krzhishnik; Slovene; Commissioner for Social Welfare; born in Styria, about 60; President of the High Court of Slovenia; former President of the Administrative High Court of Celje; a Freethinker and active Freemason, working in the lodges of Sarajevo and Ljubljana. Although he never belonged to any political party, he might be classified as a Liberal Democrat.

Fran Frol; Croat; Commissioner for Justice; about 50; member of the Croat Peasant party; former head of the Civil Service in the Banovina of Croatia.

Mile Pernuichich, Commissioner for Supplies; Serb; former M.P. of the Democratic party.

Dr. Rade Pribichevich, Commissioner for Public Works; lawyer from Petrinja; 45; Serb; member of the Executive Committee of the Independent Democratic party. Fought actively against King Alexander's dictatorship; very popular with both the Croat peasants and the Serbs.

Colonel Suleyman Filipovich, Commissioner for Forests and Mines; Moslem from Bosnia; recently went over to the Partisans from the Croat conscripted army with his whole regiment.

Mosha Piyade; 50; one of the vice-presidents of the National Liberation Committee; journalist and painter from Belgrade; Serb (Jew); Secretary of the Communist party of Yugoslavia; translator of Marx's "Das Kapital"; sentenced to 14 years imprisonment for being Communist. Apart from his activities in political life he was known to the people of Yugoslavia as a distinguished painter and writer. He is known to be a very capable administrator.

There are many others who perhaps deserve mention just as much as those listed. We merely bring these to your attention to give you an idea of the cross-section from which these men came in public life. All men to whom party differences meant far less than the defeat of fascism.