Edvard Kardelj (pronounced [ˈeːdvaɾt kaɾˈdeːl]; 27 January 1910 – 10 February 1979), also known under the pseudonyms Bevc, Sperans and Krištof, was a journalist and one of the leading members of the illegal Communist Party from Ljubljana, Slovenia before World War II. During the war he was one of the leaders of the Liberation Front of the Slovenian People and a Slovene Partisan, and after the war a federal political leader in Titoist Yugoslavia who led the Yugoslav delegation that negotiated peace talks with Italy over the border dispute in the Julian March. He is considered the main creator of the Yugoslav system of establishing workers' self-management. He was an economist and a full member of both the Slovene Academy of Sciences and Arts and Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts.1
Kardelj was born in Ljubljana. 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 Belgrade 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 Moscow 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 Leskošek (sl) 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.
After 1945, he rose to the highest positions in the Yugoslav regime, and moved into a luxury house in the Tacen neighborhood of Ljubljana that was confiscated from its previous owner, the industrialist Ivan Seunig. The house had been built in 1940 by the architect Bojan Stupica (1910–1970) and was initially occupied by the communist politician Boris Kraigher.34
Between 1945 and 1947 Kardelj led the Yugoslav delegation that negotiated peace talks with Italy 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 Yugoslavia, known as workers' self-management. In the 1950s, especially after Djilas' removal, he rose to become the main theorist of Titoism and Yugoslav workers' self-management.
Kardelj was shot and wounded in 1959 by Jovan Veselinov (sl). Although the official police investigation concluded that Veselinov had been shooting at a wild boar and Kardelj was struck by a ricochet from a rock, it was suggested at the time that the assassination attempt was orchestrated by his political rival Aleksandar Ranković or Ranković's ally Slobodan Penezić.56
Kardelj's role diminished in the 1960s, for reasons that have yet to become clear. He again rose to prominence after 1973, when Tito removed the Croatian, Serbian and Slovenian reformist Communist leaderships, and restored a more orthodox party line. The following year he was one of the main authors of the 1974 Yugoslav Constitution which decentralized decision-making in the country, leaving the single republics under the leadership of their respective political leaderships.
Kardelj died of colon cancer in Ljubljana on 10 February 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 Ploče in southern Croatia was renamed Kardeljevo in his honour in 1950-54 and again in 1980-90. Immediately after his death, the University of Ljubljana changed its name to the "University of Edvard Kardelj in Ljubljana" (Slovene: Univerza Edvarda Kardelja v Ljubljani).
After the collapse of Yugoslavia, most of these were restored to their previous names, although in Slovenia there are still some street and square names that bear his name, most famously the main town square in Nova Gorica.
- Milovan Đilas
- Stane Dolanc
- Economy of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
- Self-management (disambiguation)
- Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
- Josip Broz Tito
- Politika daily, Političari i akademici
- Strle, Franci. 1980. Tomšičeva brigada: Uvodni del. Ljubljana: Partizanska knjiga, p. 146.
- Pahor, Peter. 2011. "Kardeljevo vilo v Tacnu vrnili dedičem." Dnevnik (15 October). (Slovene)
- Delić, Anuška. 2007. "Od Kraigherja in Kardelja do kaznovanih sodnih izvedencev". Delo (16 July). (Slovene)
- "She Came in through the Bathroom Window" Tribuna (14 August 1989), pp. 3–7. Ljubljana: UK ZSMS, page 3. (Slovene)
- Ramet, Sabrina P. "Yugoslavia." In Eastern Europe: Politics, Culture, and Society Since 1939, pp. 159–189. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, p. 166.
- 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)
- 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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