Aleksandar Ranković

For the footballer, see Aleksandar Ranković (footballer).
Aleksandar Ranković
Александар Ранковић
1st Vice President of Yugoslavia
In office
1963  1 July 1966
President Josip Broz Tito
Preceded by Office established
Succeeded by Koča Popović
Minister of the Internal Affairs of Yugoslavia
In office
January 1946  1953
President Josip Broz Tito
Preceded by Vlada Zečević
Succeeded by Svetislav Stefanović
Chief of OZNA
In office
13 May 1944  March 1946
Vice President of the People's Assembly of the PR Serbia
In office
November 1944  January 1946
Personal details
Born (1909-11-28)28 November 1909
Draževac, Kingdom of Serbia
Died 20 August 1983(1983-08-20) (aged 73)
Dubrovnik, SR Croatia, SFR Yugoslavia
Resting place Belgrade, Serbia
Nationality Serb
Political party Communist Party of Yugoslavia
Spouse(s) Anđa Ranković
Occupation Politician, soldier, worker

Order of the People's Hero

Order of the Hero of Socialist Labour

Order of National Liberation

Military service
Nickname(s) Marko, Leka
Allegiance  Yugoslavia
Service/branch Yugoslav Partisans
Years of service 1941–1945
Rank Colonel general
Battles/wars World War II in Yugoslavia

Aleksandar Ranković (nom de guerre Leka; Serbian Cyrillic: Александар Ранковић Лека; 28 November 1909 – 20 August 1983) was a Yugoslav communist of Serb origin, considered to be the third most powerful man in Yugoslavia after Josip Broz Tito and Edvard Kardelj.[1] Ranković was a proponent of a centralized Yugoslavia and opposed efforts that promoted decentralization that he deemed to be against the interests of Serb unity;[2] he ran Kosovo as a police state[3] and made Serbs dominant in the Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo's nomenklatura.[2] Ranković supported a hardline approach against Albanians in Kosovo who were commonly suspected of pursuing seditious activities.[4][5]

The popularity of Ranković's nationalistic policies in Serbia became apparent at his funeral in 1983, which large numbers of people attended. Many considered Ranković a Serbian "national" leader.[6] Ranković's policies have been perceived as the basis of the Serbian nationalist agenda of Slobodan Milošević.[6]

Early life

Ranković was born in the village of Draževac near Obrenovac in the Kingdom of Serbia. Born into a poor family, Ranković lost his father at a young age. He attended high school in his hometown. He went to Belgrade to work and joined the workers' movement. He was also influenced by his colleagues who, at the time when the Communist Party was banned, brought communist magazines and literature with them, which were read by Ranković. At age 15 he joined the union. In 1927 he met his future wife Anđa, and year later he joined the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. Soon he was named Secretary-General of the League of Communists of Youth of Yugoslavia (SKOJ) in Belgrade.

Pre-war activity

In 1928 when he became a member of the Communist Party, Ranković was named Secretary of the Regional Committee of the SKOJ of Serbia. The January 6th Dictatorship didn't influence his political activity. As leader of the Regional Committee of SKOJ he published a flyer which was distributed in Belgrade and Zemun. During the time when flyers were being printed, one of his associates was arrested and soon Ranković was discovered by the police. He was captured in Belgrade in an illegal apartment.

Ranković's trial was one of the first trials after the declaration of King Alexander's dictatorship. He was sentenced for 6 years and he spent his punishment in prisons in Sremska Mitrovica and Lepoglava. During his imprisonment he spread communist agenda among younger prisoners. In prison, he organized attacks on the police by political prisoners. He was released in 1935 and after the release he was enlisted to the army. After the military service he worked for the workers' movement in Belgrade. Through the unions he revived activity of the Communist Party. In 1936 he became member of the Regional Committee of Serbia and in 1937 member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. In January 1939 he started to act illegally under codename "Marko". In May 1939 Ranković participated in the consultations of communists of Yugoslavia in Drava Banovina in Šmarna Gora, and later he participated on the 5th Conference of KPJ held in Zagreb.

Later career

Ranković was a member of the Politburo from 1940. Ranković was captured and tortured by the German Gestapo in 1941 but was later rescued in a daring raid by Yugoslav Partisans.[7] His wife and mother were killed by the Gestapo during the war.[8] Ranković served on the Supreme Staff throughout the war. He was named a "People's Hero" for his services during World War II.

In May 1944, Ranković created OZNA, the Partisan's security agency. After the war, he became minister of the interior and chief of the military intelligence agency UDBA, which had replaced OZNA.

In the daily "Politika" of February 1st 1951 chief of secret police Aleksandar Rankovic states: "Through our jails there passed from 1941 to 1951 3.777.776 persons and we liquidated 568.000 enemies of the people".

He fell from power in 1966, ostensibly for abusing his authority by bugging the sleeping quarters of President Josip Broz Tito. He was expelled from the SKJ the same year.[7]

His fall from power marked the beginning of the end of a centralized power structure of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia over the country and the social and political separatist and autonomist movements that would culminate in the Croatian Spring and the newly de-centralized Yugoslavia that emerged from the 1971 constitutional reforms and later the 1974 Constitution.[9]

Ranković's grave in Belgrade

Ranković spent his remaining years in a political exile of sorts in Dubrovnik until his death in 1983. He was buried in Belgrade with some 30,000 Serbs spontaneously showing up for his funeral at Belgrade's New Cemetery, despite the event being ignored by the tightly-controlled media in the country.

See also

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  1. Aleksandar Rankovic - Political Profile of A Yugoslav "Stalinist"
  2. 1 2 Melissa Katherine Bokovoy, Jill A. Irvine, Carol S. Lilly. State-society relations in Yugoslavia, 1945–1992. Scranton, Pennsylvania, USA: Palgrave Macmillan, 1997, p. 295.
  3. Judah. The Serbs. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-15826-7.
  4. Independent International Commission on Kosovo. The Kosovo report: conflict, international response, lessons learned. New York, New York, USA: Oxford University Press, 2000. p. 35.
  5. Judah, Tim (2008). Kosovo: what everyone needs to know. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 51–52. ISBN 978-0-19-537345-5.
  6. 1 2 Lenard J. Cohen. Serpent in the bosom: the rise and fall of Slobodan Milošević. Boulder, Colorado, USA: Westview Press, 2002. p. 98.
  7. 1 2 "Aleksandar Ranković. Narodni heroj ili domaci izdajnik" (in Serbian). Yugoslavia Times. 1 October 2012. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
  8. Gunther, John (1961). Inside Europe Today. New York: Harper & Brothers. p. 350. LCCN 61-9706.
  9. Yugoslavia: The Specter of Separatism


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