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Every monument has its own story

Categories: Monuments speak

Partisan Memorial Cemetery, Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Partisan Memorial Cemetery, Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Partisan Memorial Cemetery in Mostar commemorates the 810 World War II fighters of the Partisan National Liberation Army who were killed in battles against Ustaše and the German fascist occupiers.

Mostar was besieged by an occupation forces made up of Germans, Italians and Ustašas and numerous atrocities were committed against the civilians by these Axis forces and their collaborators, especially by Ustashas whose violence was targeted against local Serb, Jewish and Roma ethnic populations, since the ethnic cleansing in NDH state established in Bosnia and Herzegovina aimed at reducing and/or eliminating these ethnic groups. However, as early as in August 1941, a well – organized, strong resistance movement began to rise up against this occupation, joining the Partisan units which were composed of the people belonging to diverse ethnic and cultural background. According to estimates out of some 18,000 people who resided in Mostar during the war, more than 6,000 actively participated in the Partisan resistance movement and thus was known as The Red City at the time.

The Memorial Cemetery (built in 1965) as a unique architectural masterpiece is designed as a necropolis mirroring the city of the living. Built on a plateau just above the city of Mostar, the Memorial Complex comprises stone bridges, paved narrow streets, towers and gates perfectly positioned for an eternal dialogue with the city below, as an everlasting reminder of a closeness between the worlds of the heavenly and the earthly.

The two cities look at each other face to face - the city of dead anti-fascist heroes, mostly young men and women and the city of the living for which they had laid down their lives. According to Bogdan Bogdanovic (1922-2010), the architect, this memorial cemetery was built slowly, painstakingly and carefully, with voluntary contributions and donations of stone from the demolished houses in the war, which enriches the monument with a profound symbolic meaning. The stone from the Neretva river used for the long curved gravel path with cascading water is the house to 630 abstract stone memorial plaques with the names of fallen anti-fascists engraved on them.

Nowadays, the local Antifascist movement in Mostar (SABNOR BiH) persistently keeps reminding the general public and local authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina that Memorial Cemetery is the cornerstone of the culture of remembrance of the victims fallen during people’s liberation war in the WW2. Despite the fact that entire monumental complex is neglected and in poor condition, every February 14 - on the day of the liberation of the city of Mostar from fascist occupation, the Monument provokes high emotions among the citizens in Mostar. Anti-fascists from all over Bosnia and Herzegovina and neighbouring countries get together to pay tribute to the dead, but what they can see on the site are more graffiti, damage and devastation of the monument as an evidence of ethnically still divided city.

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