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Every monument has its own story

Categories: Monuments speak

Kozara Monumental Park, Prijedor, Bosnia and Herezegovina

Kozara Monumental Park, Prijedor, Bosnia and Herezegovina

Kozara Monument is dedicated to the partisans and civilians who gave their lives during the Battle at Kozara in July 1942, historically known as the battle for some 68.000 civilians of the Kozara mountain area who were surrounded by the well-armed and much stronger German fascists and Ustasha forces.  The breakthrough of the circle took place in the night of 3rd July 1942, but most of the partisans and civilians failing to get through the ring fell into the hands of the Ustashas and the Germans who then committed horrific crimes against them. According to historic evidences, the number of enemy soldiers was 40,000 fighting against some 4,000 partisans almost half of whom gave their lives, whilst some 50,000 civilians were sent to Jasenovac and other concentration camps in Germany. The Kozara Memorial Park has collected the names of 33,398 killed civilians, while the fate of many of the missing is still unknown. This epic battle turned the Kozara mountain into a legend and a symbol of partisan resistance and immense suffering of the civilians whose destiny was commemorated in numerous pieces of art and literature, including the monument itself, a famous poem “Stojanka majka Knezopoljka” by Skender Kulenovic, a film directed by Veljko Bulajic (1962), while the fate of the children from Kozara was described in the film “Diary of Dijana Budisavljevic” (2019) an Austrian humanitarian who managed to save some 12.000 children from the concentration camps in the then Independent State of Croatia (NDH).

The Kozara Monument known also as the Monument to the Revolution is one of those monumental architectural designs belonging to the socialist modernism of the former Yugoslavia created from the early 1960s to the early 1980s. This was exactly the time when a post WW2 unique cultural space and a cultural heritage were being created as a legacy outliving the political heritage of the then federalist country that collapsed in bloody conflicts during 90ties. 

Dusan Dzamonja (1928 – 2009), the author of the monument built in 1972, considered that the framework of Yugoslav cultural space changed the paradigm of visual artistic expression allowing modernist forms to dominate the nature’s scenery and provoke differentiated perspectives and free interpretations.  The twenty 34 meters high concrete vertical pillars creating a cylindrical whole are assembled, while the cutouts create an illusion of fight between the light and the dark as the key symbolic meaning. A visitor has an impression of entering into a quiet temple and if standing in the middle of the circle of high columns the play of magic light and acoustic effects begin.

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