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Stark war memorials of Yugoslavia


The Stone Flower, a structure known as a “spomenik” located in Jasenovac, Croatia. Built in 1966, it commemorates the thousands of victims who were executed during World War II at the Jasenovac forced labor and extermination camp which operated on this very location by the river Sava.

To be honest, there is about a zero percent chance that I will ever travel anywhere even close to the region that was once known as Yugoslavia. However, if I did ever venture to that part of the world I would make it a point to attempt to see at least a few of the haunting sculptures or “spomeniks” that were erected all over the region. These stone architectural marvels are meant to serve as grim reminders of those who fought and died in various military events that took place during significant battles, involving among other things resistance operations meant to repel the Ottoman Empire in the 1800s.

Most of the structures were built in the late 60s. One of the most striking is the Monument to the Revolution which is located in Podgarić, Berek. The futuristic-looking sculpture was built by Croatian sculptor Dušan Džamonja and still stands as a memorial to the citizens of Moslavina who died while resisting the German forces during WWII. Others appear to be channeling the architectural design directly from 1976 and the film Logan’s Run—which is perhaps yet another reason I find them so compelling to look at. 

While they are quite beautiful to behold, it’s critical to understand the meaning behind the monuments that serve as a reminder of time much more daunting than what we are being faced with right now. As well as the fact that those who do not remember the past—specifically the numerous historical examples in Yugoslavia that saw the people adapt to authoritarian regimes—will likely allow such events to repeat themselves. Many of the images of notable spomeniks in this post were taken by famed Antwerp-based photographer Jan Kempenaers and are the featured in his 2005 book, Spomenik. If you’re interested in learning more about the history behind the spomeniks, I would recommend spending some time at the extensively detailed online resource, the Spomenik Database.
 

A set of sculptures that stand in Bubanj Memorial Park built by Petar Kristic. Located on a hill in Niš, it marks the location where more than ten thousand Serbian people were systematically executed by German forces.
 

“Bulgaria’s UFO,” the Buzludzha monument. Designed by Georgi Stoilov, the monument officially opened in 1981 on the top of Mount Buzludzha which was also the infamous site of the last stand between Bulgarian rebels and the Ottoman Empire in 1868.
 

A memorial known as the Makedonium. Located in Kruševo and completed in 1874, the structure is meant to serve as a reminder of those who participated and gave their lives during the 1903 rebellion against the Ottoman empire.
 

Located in Bosnia, the Tjentiste War Memorial stands as a reminder of the Battle of the Sutjeska during which Yugoslavian Partisans were able to successfully repel the Nazis who were attempting to kidnap their leader. The event was the basis for the 1973 film, ‘The Battle of Sutjeska’ starring Richard Burton.
 

The Monument to the Revolution in Podgarić, Berek, Croatia. Designed by Dušan Džamonja and erected in 1967.
 

Part of the Kadinjača Memorial Complex in Serbia, construction of the memorial site began in the early 50s, and after it has been completely developed, opened in 1979. It is another haunting tribute to Partisan fighters that were a part of the Worker’s Battalion of the Užice Partisan Detachment who duked it out with German troops during a military event known as the Battle of Kadinjača in 1941.
 

This spomenik was completed in 1970 and serves as a memorial to the Fallen Soldiers of the Kosmaj Partisan Detachment. Each spike is approximately 130 feet tall.
 

Monument to the Revolution in Kozara National Park, Bosnia & Herzegovina. An epically bloody battle it is said that 2,500 Partisan fighters perished, while 25,000 Serbian civilians were killed. In addition, it is estimated that 40,000 others transferred to Ustaše concentration camps during the Kozara Offensive in the spring of 1942.
 

Shrine to the Revolution (Monument to Fallen Miners). Finished in 1973, this ominous structure commemorates efforts of Serbian and Albanian fighters who worked at the Trepča mines in Mitrovica and bravely defied the German occupation.
 
HT: Calvert Journal

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