Miljuša Jovanović (1917-1991)

Miljuša Jovanović was the sister of general Ars Jovanović, the first Chief of the General Staff of the Yugoslav People’s Army. As a member of the 1st Proletarian Brigade she was part of the Igman march in late January 1942. She was rendered permanently disabled after her feet froze during the march. After Tito’s disagreement with Stalin in June 1948, general Jovanović accepted the Cominform Resolution, and tried to flee to Romania along with two other officers. He died in a skirmish with the border patrol on 11 August 1948. His sister, who never got over the death of her beloved brother, was arrested soon after. At the time, she held a leading post in the alliance of war-disabled veterans.

She spent nearly two years in remand prisons. According to UDBA records, she was held in women’s camps on Goli and Sveti Grgur from 2 October 1950 until 6 February 1954. Dragoslav Simić published Miljuša’s testimony in the book, Ženski logor na Golom otoku. Ispovesti kažnjenica i islednice (Women’s Camp on Goli Otok. Convicts’ and Jailers’ Testimonies) (Dragoslav Simić and Boško Trifunović, ed., Belgrade, ABC Product, 1990). This is how Simić summed up his experience of this extraordinary character: “In my professional career Miljuša is a completely singular figure, who holds a place of honour, with an incredible, cinematic biography. She remained a member of the Communist Party until the end of her life, one might say, like a ‘party faithful’, but with fervour, as if she was a character in Nikolai Ostrovsky’s novel How the Steel Was Tempered.”

 ‘Getting up at 4 am, lining up, stand up, then the count, then pretend to have a wash in the sea, then come back, they give you a bit of polenta, then you go to work, working all day long, then the Bura starts to blow, and it freezes you to your bones, does Bura… but the worst was when for twenty minutes you’re [laying] in bed, then twenty minutes on your feet [they wake you up]… one night they had me do this seventeen times.’

*This text is taken from the web page of the artistic project ‘You betrayed the Party just when you should have helped it’. We thank the author and project leader, Andreja Kulunčić, and her colleagues, for use of the materials.