Branko Petranović

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Branko Petranović
Branko Petranović.JPG
Born31 October 1927 (1927-10-31)
DiedJune 17, 1994(1994-06-17) (aged 66)
Alma materBelgrade University
Scientific career
InfluencedLatinka Perović

Branko Petranović (31 October 1927, Cetinje — 17 June 1994, Belgrade) was a Serbian historian and a Belgrade University professor specializing in history of Yugoslavia.[1][2]


Branko Petranović was born in Cetinje, Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Primary and secondary school education he finished in Kotor, Cetinje and Belgrade. From January 1944 he joined to Tito's partisans. He finished undergraduate studies at Belgrade University: at the Faculty of Law in 1950 and at the Faculty of Philosophy in 1956. From 1958 he dedicated himself to historiography and started his academic career as a researcher at the History Department of the Institute of Social Sciences (May 1958-August 1963). He earned his PhD degree at the Belgrade University Faculty of Law in 1962. As a researcher he worked at the Department for the History of the Yugoslav Workers' Movement of the Workers' Movement Research Institute (September 1963-January 1969) and the Institute of Contemporary History (January–November 1969). From 1969, he was an associate professor and from 1975 a full professor at the Belgrade University Faculty of Philosophy, Department of History. Petranović was also a member of editorial and advisory boards of numerous historical journals and anthologies (Istorija XX veka, Istorijski glasnik, Vojnoistorijski glasnik, Jugoslovenski istorijski časopis, etc.).[2]

During his academic career he advised 28 MSc and 19 PhD students.[3][2]

Petranović never retired. He died on 17 June 1994 and was buried in Belgrade.


Petranović published 32 books in 38 volumes, 314 scientific papers in conferences proceedings and scientific journals and 259 surveys in scientific journals. He authored two TV documentaries dedicated to the history of Yugoslavia. He was a 20th-century historian who Yugoslav and foreign academics dedicated 296 articles to. His academic archives, found after his death, were source for additional six books (out of which one was published in the United States) and ten new scientific papers.[3]

He contributed to the transformation of the Yugoslav Communist Party institutions from party services into serious research institutes. As a historian he fought against fanaticism, fatalism, and taboo creation in historiography i.e. fought against historian being a privileged liar of the rulers.[4][5]

Most his academic research and career was dedicated to the 20ieth century epoch and to Yugoslavia. Historian Ljubodrag Dimić, in his Foreword to Branko Petranović: The Yugoslav Experience of Serbian National Integration, stressed that the twentieth century epoch in Yugoslavia was not inclined to the historian, especially not to the one who was trying to gain rational knowledge about the history of the Yugoslav state and society. In the first years following the Second World War, ideological and political conditions were not favorable for the study of history. The knowledge of history was considered to be unnecessary and, quite often, undesirable. The interests of the revolution, the people, the state and the working class were colliding with the postulates of the profession. These, for a historian, unfavorable social conditions were something he faced and understood as a dictature. Even when his works were influenced by the ruling communist ideology and its phraseology, the same works provided numerous insights into main problems of the historic development of Yugoslav state. As a historian, he was led by his principle stating that a historian cannot dedicate himself to the history of his times without confronting his own work and results to other historians research.[4][3]

He thought that disintegration of second Yugoslavia was a tragic event and, as a historian, he tried to thoroughly examine the multiple causes hidden behind the politics which lead to the disintegration of both Yugoslavias. He stated that Yugoslavia was the only state keeping all Serbs inside the same state and that both Yugoslavias disintegrated due to the fact that they were dictatures with no democratic alternative. He stated that the dictatures were not able to counter taboos, religious intolerance and divisions, uneven economic development of Yugoslav regions, and influence and interest of great powers.[4]

His overall research can be summarized by the twentieth century themes[6]

  • Kingdom of Yugoslavia
  • History of Serbia in WWII
  • Communist Yugoslavia
  • WWII resistance movement in Europe
  • role of a historian in contemporary epoch[2]

Petranović influenced a group of his students who became later historians at Belgrade University: Ljubodrag Dimić, Desanka Pešić, Latinka Perović, for example. He advised his graduate students not to be historians of a single subject, rather historians of a century. He taught his students to think about a single event as an event in the context of the world history process within local environment.[7]

Selected works[edit]


  1. ^ Бранко Петрановић, Istorijska bibloteka (Branko Petranović biography in Serbian)
  2. ^ a b c d Dimić, Ljubodrag: Foreword: Branko Petranovic (1927-1994) in Branko Petranović: The Yugoslav Experience of Serbian National Integration, Issue 586 of East European monographs, East European Monographs, 2002, page vii-xxi
  3. ^ a b c Stanković, Đ., Dimić,L., Mira Radojević, M.: Istorija, a ne politika , Politika, April 21, 2008
  4. ^ a b c Perišić, Miroslav: Branko Petranović (In memoriam) in Jugoslovenski istorijski časopis, Issues 1-2, Savez društava istoričara Jugoslavije, Belgrade, 1999., page 297-301
  5. ^ The "privileged liar" phrase was borrowed from the H. de Balsac's Catherine de Medici:
    There is a general cry of paradox when scholars, struck by some historical error, attempt to correct it; but, for whoever studies modern history to its depths, it is plain that historians are privileged liars, who lend their pen to popular beliefs precisely as the newspapers of the day, or most of them, express the opinions of their readers.
  6. ^ Dimić, Ljubodrag; Lončar, Dragomir: Branko Petranović, Bibliography and Biobibliography, Faculty of Philosophy, Belgrade University 1996
  7. ^ Ljubodrag Dimić: Eksplozija istorije (in Serbian)

External links[edit]