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Edvard Kardelj (January 27, 1910 - February 10, 1979) also known under the pseudonyms Sperans and Krištof was a Slovene communist political leader, economist, partisan, and publicist. He is considered the main creator of the Yugoslav attempt at establishing workers' self-management.

Early years

Kardelj was born in Ljubljanamarker. At the age of 16 he joined the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, where he was drafted under the influence of the Slovenian publicist Vlado Kozak. He studied to become a teacher, but never worked as one. In 1930, he was arrested in Belgrademarker and convicted of being a member of the illegal Communist Party. He was released in 1932, and returned to Ljubljana when he became one of the leaders of the Slovenian section of the party, after most of its former members had either left the party or perished in the Stalinist purges.

In 1935 he went to Moscowmarker to work for the Comintern. He was part of a group that survived Joseph Stalin's purge of the Yugoslav Communist leadership. Following Stalin's appointment of Josip Broz Tito as party leader, Kardelj became a leading member of the Party. The new leadership, centered around Tito, Aleksandar Ranković and Kardelj, returned to Yugoslavia in 1937 and launched a new party policy, calling for a common anti-Fascist platform of all Yugoslav left-wing forces and for a federalization of Yugoslavia. The same year, an autonomous Communist Party of Slovenia was formed, with Kardelj as one of its leaders, together with Franc Leskovšek and Boris Kidrič.

After the Axis invasion of Yugoslavia in April 1941, he became one of the leaders of the Liberation Front of the Slovenian People. In summer and autumn 1941, he helped to set up the armed resistance in Slovenia which fought against the occupying forces till May 1945, jointly with Tito's Partisans in what became known as the People's Liberation War of Yugoslavia.

The Titoist ideologist

After 1945, he rose to the highest positions in the Yugoslav regime. Between 1945 and 1947 he led the Yugoslav delegation that negotiated peace talks with Italymarker over the border dispute in the Julian March. After the Tito-Stalin split in 1948, he helped, together with Milovan Đilas and Vladimir Bakarić, to devise a new economic policy in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslaviamarker, known as workers' self-management. In the 1950s, especially after Djilas' removal, he rose to become the main ideologist of Titoism. He had an important influence on the Yugoslav military intelligence service, the KOS.

Nevertheless, his role diminished in the 1960s, for reasons that have yet to become clear. He again rose to prominence after 1973, when Tito removed the Croatia, Serbia and Slovenian reformist Communist leaderships, and restored a more orthodox party line. In 1974, he was one of the main authors of the new Yugoslav constitution which decentralized decision-making in the country, leaving the single republics under the leadership of their respective Communist élites.

Kardelj died of colon cancer in Ljubljana on February 10, 1979.

During his lifetime, he was given several honors. He was appointed a member of the Slovene Academy of Sciences and Arts and was officially honored as a People's Hero of Yugoslavia. Apart from many streets, the entire coastal town of Pločemarker in southern Croatiamarker was renamed Kardeljevo in his honour in 1950-1954 and again in 1980-1990. Immediately after his death, the University of Ljubljanamarker changed its name to "University of Edvard Kardelj in Ljubljana".

After the collapse of Yugoslavia, most of these were regiven their previous names, although in Sloveniamarker there are still some street and square names that bear his name, most famously the main town square in Nova Goricamarker.

Controversy over the authorship of the Evolution

One of his most influential and insightful, as well as controversial works was the book Razvoj slovenskega narodnega vprašanja (The Evolution of the Slovene National Question), written in 1939, partially as a response to Josip Vidmar's Kulturni problem slovenstva ("The Cultural Problem of Slovene-hood"). It has been claimed that Kardelj's book plagiarised a Dragotin Gustinčič manuscript from 1933 entitled Das nationale Problem der Slowenen ("The Slovene National Issue"), although there is no proof for such a claim. The manuscript still exists, but has not yet been published. Gustinčič, one of the founding members of the Yugoslav Communist Party in Slovenia, was arrested in 1948, prior to the Tito-Stalin split, later accused of Stalinism and sent to the concentration camp at Goli otokmarker. It was perhaps this fact that later triggered the speculation, which has yet to be properly assessed.


Edvard Kardelj was the father of the poet Borut Kardelj, who committed suicide in 1971. His wife Pepca Kardelj, sister of a national hero Ivan Maček-Matija also committed suicide in 1990.See also: Edvard Kardelj, Vermeidbarkeit oder Unvermeidbarkeit des Krieges: Die jugoslawische und die chinesische These, Rowohlts Deutsche Enzyklopadie, (Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt Taschenbuch GmbH, 1961).

See also


  • Jože Pirjevec, Jugoslavija: nastanek, razvoj ter razpad Karadjordjevićeve in Titove Jugoslavije (Koper: Lipa, 1995).
  • Janko Prunk, "Idejnopolitični nazor Edvarda Kardelja v okviru evropskega socializma" in Ferenčev zbornik, ed. Zdenko Čepič&Damijan Guštin (Ljubljana: Inštitut za novejšo zgodovino, 1997), 105-116.
  • Alenka Puhar, "Avtorstvo Razvoja slovenskega narodnostnega vprašanja: Ali bi k Speransu sodil še Anin, Alfa, mogoče Bor?", Delo (August 29, 2001), 16.
  • Alenka Puhar, "Skrivnostna knjiga o Slovencih, ki že sedemdeset let čaka na objavo", Delo (October 3, 2001), 26.
  • Božo Repe, Rdeča Slovenija: tokovi in obrazi iz obdobja socializma (Ljubljana: Sophia, 2003).

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