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Every monument has its own story

Categories: Monuments speak

MEMORIAL COMPLEX KADINJACA, Municipality Uzice Serbia

MEMORIAL COMPLEX KADINJACA, Municipality Uzice Serbia

This Memorial Complex is located 14 km west of Užice – a town in central Serbia, and was built in the period from 1952-1979 as a reminder of November 1941, when the Workers' Battalion of the local Partisan Detachment, resisted the enemy, protecting the retreat of the majority of partisan units who were forced to leave Užice, after 67 days of the first, short-lived liberated Yugoslav territory and the first liberated territory in World War II Europe (The Republic of Uzice). The Germans occupying forces put into action "Operation Užice", which was the first German led anti-Partisan effort of WWII. Establishment and existence of “The Republic of Uzice” is the first in the series seven military offensives in the WW2 and an evidence of an emerging Partisans’ movement that was gradually transformed into People’s Liberation Army with the headquarters capable to lead military operations on the territory of entire Yugoslavia. As early as in 1941., this free territory was of some 19,000 square kilometers (almost one third of the total area of Serbia) with the population of about one million. The Republic had its government, economy based on local craftsmen, farmers and trade, transportation ensured by the revitalised railway system. There was also a weaving mill that produced linen, towels and some medical supplies. A tailoring workshop for sawing military clothes,  a shoemaker's workshop, a bakery, and a leather processing workshop also started working. Three smaller hydroelectric power plants on the Djetinja river were continuously operating, so that the city and all economic facilities were regularly supplied with electricity.

Intensive social, cultural and political life were also a part of daily engagement of the people living here, while specific attention, according to the exhibits in the City Museum in Uzice was given to diverse forms of public information provision – ranging from loudspeakers, posters and public proclamations. The building that used to be the National Bank before the war (and today is the home to the National Museum of Uzice) became the seat of the Supreme Commander and the Headquarters of Peoples’ Liberation Army, the Politburo of the Communist Party Central Committee and the Youth Central Committee. The weapons and ammunition factory was moved from a neighbouring city and placed in various parts of Uzice and in the underground tunnels (vaults) of the National Bank. The factory was operational throughout entire duration of the Republic, but terrible explosion caused by a planted device killed most of workers, thus also marking an end to the “Republic of Uzice”. Eventually, the valuable experiences of the life in the first liberated territory in 1941 was the grounds for visioning of the new post WW2 state.

Kadinjaca Memorial Complex covers an area of 15 ha. There is a Memorial Home intended for the reception of visitors in order to provide information about the monument and the battle of Kadinjača. In the same building, there is a permanent exhibition "Workers' Battalion and the Fight on Kadinjača" in an area of about 150 m, with over 300 exhibits. These items were owned by members of the Workers' Battalion - personal documents, photographs, weapons. The memorial complex includes the amphitheater of the Republic of Užice, the alley of the Workers' Battalion and the Freedom Plateau. Beneath the pyramid-shaped monument is an ossuary with the remains of members of the Workers' Battalion who died in the battle of Kadinjača. In memory of the resistance of the defenders, the Monument was discovered in 1952. The verses of the Užice poet Slavko Vukosavljević are engraved on the monument.

In 1979, an expanded monument complex was unveiled, when the Workers' Battalion was awarded the Order of the People's Hero. The grand opening was on September 23, and the entire complex was inaugurated by the then President of Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito, which was his last official duty and last appearance in public before his death in May 1980. A park with 88 trees was planted in his honor.

The new monument did not replace the old obelisk, but rather surround it, transforming the hillside into a memorial park. The sculptor Miodrag Živković and architect Aleksandar Đokić wanted and succeeded to make this monument ascend the surrounding landscape. For both of them the poem "Kadinjača" by Slavko Vukosavljević felt like an everlasting response to the Workers' Battalion, and inspiration for their monumental design.

Today, Kadinjača Memorial Complex is maintained to an excellent standard and, unlike many similar monuments in the region, this one is free from graffiti and vandalism, with a beautiful landscape making it a Monument with a spectacular view at the surrounding hillside and distant mountains of western Serbia.

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