Dragan Ozren (1908 – 1951)

Dragan Ozren was born Dragan Müller in Travnik, on 3 April 1908, in a bourgeois family. He grew up in Osijek, and became a Marxist in high school. Müller left for Prague in 1926, and started an Architecture degree at the Upper Technical School. He became a contributor to a Czech avant-garde magazine, and moved to the USSR in 1931. It is there that he took the name of Dragan Ozren. Since he was multilingual, he was sent to work in the editorial department of the Communist International (Comintern). He associated with the intellectual elite of the Soviet communist movement and worked as a propagandist for the antifascist forces during the Spanish Civil War and WW2. He was arrested during Stalin’s Great Purge in 1938, but released soon after. He joined the Red Army in 1944, and as a member of its First Yugoslav Brigade, returned to Yugoslavia.

Soon after the liberation of Belgrade, he was arrested by the Yugoslav Secret Service (OZNA) under suspicions that he was a Soviet secret agent. This was an unprecedented case, since Ozren was a citizen of the USSR, which was an ally of Yugoslavia. After his release, he worked in publishing in Belgrade. He was arrested again in 1947 because of his connections with the Soviet information services and his support for the Cominform Resolution, which he had, according to some sources, publicly supported. He was sentenced to a 24 month administrative sentence and sent to Goli Otok, where he was placed in the so-called ‘Petar’s Hole’. According to the testimonies of several prison inmates, his health condition worsened due to the guards’ beatings, and he was sent to the Rijeka hospital following one such beating. He died in hospital on 27 February 1951. The cause of his death was recorded as heart myopathy. He was buried in Zagreb, at Mirogoj cemetery.