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Edvard Kardelj
7th President
of the Federal Assembly of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

In office
29 June 1963 – 16 May 1967
Preceded by Ivan Ribar
Succeeded by Milentije Popović
2nd Foreign Minister of Yugoslavia

In office
31 August 1948 – 15 January 1953
Preceded by Stanoje Simić
Succeeded by Koča Popović
1st Chairman of the League of Communists of Slovenia

In office
Preceded by None
Succeeded by Franc Leskošek
Personal details
Born (1910-01-27)27 January 1910
Ljubljana, Austria-Hungary
(modern Slovenia)
Died 10 February 1979(1979-02-10) (aged 69)
Ljubljana, SR Slovenia, SFR Yugoslavia
Nationality Yugoslav
Political party League of Communists of Yugoslavia (SKJ)
Spouse(s) Pepca Kardelj
Occupation Economist, revolutionary, publicist and full member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts
Religion None (Atheist)
Military service
Allegiance Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Yugoslavia
Service/branch Yugoslav People's Army
Rank Colonel General of Yugoslav People's Army
Commands Yugoslav Partisans
Yugoslav People's Army
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Order of Yugoslav Star
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Order of the People's Hero
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Order of the Hero of Socialist Labour
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Order of the brotherhood and unity
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Order of the partisan star
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Order of the National liberation
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Order for courageousness

Edvard Kardelj (pronounced [ɛ̌dʋart kǎrdɛl]) (January 27, 1910 – February 10, 1979), also known under the pseudonyms Sperans and Krištof, was before WW II a publicist and one of leading members of illegal Communist Party from Ljubljana, Slovenia, during the war one of the leaders of the Liberation Front of the Slovenian People, 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, an economist, and a full member of both Slovene Academy of Sciences and Arts and Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts.[1]


Early years[]

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.

On 15 August 1939 Kardelj married Pepca Kardelj (sl), sister of the (later) people's hero and communist functionary Ivan Maček (sl) (a.k.a. Matija).[2]

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.

Postwar years[]

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.[3][4]

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 (sl).[5][6]

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.

Death and legacy[]

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 Ploče in southern Croatia was renamed Kardeljevo in his honour in 1950-1954 and again in 1980-1990. Immediately after his death, the University of Ljubljana changed its name to the "University of Edvard Kardelj in Ljubljana" (Slovene language: 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.

Edvard Kardelj was the father of the poet Borut Kardelj (sl), who committed suicide in 1971. His wife Pepca Kardelj also committed suicide in 1990.[7]

See also[]

  • Milovan Đilas
  • Stane Dolanc
  • Economy of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
  • OZNA
  • Self-management (disambiguation)
  • Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
  • Josip Broz Tito
  • Titoism
  • UDBA


  1. Politika daily, Političari i akademici
  2. Strle, Franci. 1980. Tomšičeva brigada: Uvodni del. Ljubljana: Partizanska knjiga, p. 146.
  3. Pahor, Peter. 2011. "Kardeljevo vilo v Tacnu vrnili dedičem." Dnevnik (15 October). (Slovene)
  4. Delić, Anuška. 2007. "Od Kraigherja in Kardelja do kaznovanih sodnih izvedencev". Delo (16 July). (Slovene)
  5. "She Came in through the Bathroom Window" Tribuna (14 August 1989), pp. 3–7. Ljubljana: UK ZSMS, page 3. (Slovene)
  6. Ramet, Sabrina P. "Yugoslavia." In Eastern Europe: Politics, Culture, and Society Since 1939, pp. 159–189. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, p. 166.
  7. 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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