|Intro||Serbian and Yugoslavian soldier and politician|
|Was||Politician Poet Writer Political commissar|
|From||United States of America Serbia Croatia|
|Birth||14 March 1908, Belgrade, Belgrade City, Serbia, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia|
|Death||20 October 1992, Belgrade, Belgrade City, Serbia, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (aged 84 years)|
|Politics||League of Communists of Yugoslavia|
Konstantin "Koča" Popović (Serbian Cyrillic: Константин Коча Поповић; 14 March 1908 – 20 October 1992) was a Yugoslav communist volunteer in the Spanish Civil War, 1937–1939 and Divisional Commander of the First Proletarian Division of the Yugoslav Partisans. Sometimes he was known as "the man who saved YPA" because he broke through the German lines during the crucial Battle of Sutjeska and saved Tito and Yugoslav Partisans. Popović was also among the founders of FK Partizan Belgrade, the football section of the Yugoslav Sports Association Partizan.
Popović came from a prosperous Belgrade family and spent the First World War in Switzerland.
In 1929 he moved to Paris to study Law and Philosophy. Here he mixed with the Left Bank world of poets, writers, artists and intellectuals. He became an active Surrealist, active in both the French and Serbian Surrealist groups.
In 1931 Nacrt za jednu fenomenologiju iracionalnog (Outline for a Phenomenology of the Irrational) was published which he had co-written with Marko Ristić.
He then became involved with the then illegal Yugoslav Communist Party. In Paris there was a center run by Comintern and headed by Tito which was used to feed volunteers from the Balkans to the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War. Popović was drafted through this center along with a select group of Party members. Popović fought with Spanish Republican forces and not the International Brigades, holding the rank of artillery captain. At the close of the Spanish Civil War Popović escaped through France and made his way back to Yugoslavia.
The Partisan War
In 1940, as a reserve officer in the Royal Yugoslav Army he was mobilised and told by his Colonel to watch out for subversive activities within the regiment.
After the surrender of the Royal Yugoslav Army to the German Army in April 1941, Popović organised the Kosmaj detachment during the rising in Serbia. On the formation of the First Proletarian Brigade, Popović became its commander, and subsequently commanding the First Proletarian Division.
During his time leading the Partisans he encountered William Deakin, leader of the British military mission to Tito's headquarters, who wrote of Popović:
At the head of the First Proletarian Division was General Koča Popović. He had been present at our first encounter with Tito and his Staff on the morning of our arrival, but his identity was not disclosed. Taut and deliberately controlled by a sensitive and disciplined mind and power of will, Popovic was an intellectual soldier of outstanding talents, which were perhaps alien to his inner nature. [...] He was bilingual in caustic polished French, and his mental defences were impenetrable. His sarcasm was rapier-like, respectful of counter-thrusts, be he was never off his guard. [...] Popovic was a lone wolf and a solitary man, with rare unguarded moments. He had a touch of military genius and a hatred of war. He was wary of friendship, and defended with a devilish skill a total integrity of mind and heart. [...] I was frequently in his company, and grew to accept his contrived and polished sallies. Daring with cold deliberation and secret by nature, he was the idol of his troops, but few men knew him.
After the establishment of a communist regime in Yugoslavia in 1945, he served as the Chief of the Yugoslavian General Staff from 1948-1953. In this function he also conducted negotiations with the representatives of Western powers associated with the modernisation of the JNA during the conflict with the Soviet Union (i.e., Informbiro).
Consequently, he became the foreign minister of Yugoslavia in 1953 and held this office until 1965. As the Foreign Minister, he was the head of the Yugoslav delegation to the UN General Assembly sessions on several occasions.
From 1965 until 1972 he acted as a Member of the Federal Executive Council and the Vice-President of Yugoslavia from 1966 until 1967. In 1985 he was considered for promotion in rank General of the Army, but he was never promoted.
He was decorated with the Order: People's Hero of Yugoslavia, and with other high Yugoslav and 48 foreign decorations.