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Partisan monuments, their message to youth and the similarities between them

Monuments both can be used as a source of information and as a creative way to celebrate some past events or persons that had a big impact on our lives. By building such monuments we show how we still respect and appreciate true human values. Apart from that, building something with a purpose means that we are leaving a part of someday-history and teach new generations to be grateful for what they have.

A great balance of creativity and modesty describes the Partisan monuments in the Balkan region as part of World War II memorials. The Yugoslav authorities established several memorial sites between 1945 and 1960, though widespread building started after the founding of the Non-Aligned Movement. However, the president of former Yugoslavia, Tito commissioned several memorial sites and monuments in the 60s and 70s dedicated to World War II battles and concentration camp sites. They were designed by notable sculptors, including Dušan Džamonja, Vojin Bakić, Miodrag Živković, Jordan and Iskra Grabul, and architects including Bogdan Bogdanović and Gradin Medaković. After Tito's death, a small number were built, and the monuments were popular visitor attractions in the 1980s as patriotic sites, and since the dissolution of Yugoslavia the sites have been abandoned and almost have lost their importance.

We must know that former Yugoslavia had a great attitude towards those who had been fighting for basic human rights. Also, we should remember that having the right attitude means protecting basic human needs and former Yugoslavia had some good ways of teaching respect to the youth. All the monuments from that period had a great message, which was to celebrate freedom as the main goal of the former country. As mentioned above, the Yugoslav monuments of that period were built bigger to reflect the huge significance.

Photo by Kemal Pervanić 

The similarities between some well-known Partisan monuments in Bosnia-Herzegovina

As many people know, one of the symbols of Mostar is Partisan Memorial Cemetery created by a well-known designer. Thanks to the skill of Bogdan Bogdanović, the effect is a harmonious composition of plant species, running water and stone, which is of aesthetic, decorative, landscape and ambient value. Although this is a memorial complex, visitors are able to enjoy the unique blend of light, architectural forms and greenery, and enjoy the views of the city and the river as they stroll. The interplay of architectural forms borrowed from the quintessence of the ambient architecture of the region (Herzegovina's necropolises, the roof cladding of Mostar's houses), create an almost imaginary vision of the necropolis as a place for the living. Bogdanović said of his monument that it is a “fort of stone birds” in which “stone birds” utter the message of peace through symbolical and metaphorical language of forms. It was built in 1965 to honor Yugoslav Partisans of Mostar who were killed during WWII. Some of the characteristics of Yugoslav monuments are enormity and vastness of the whole complex. We can easily see that the goal is eternal remembrance expressed by well-planned space whose purpose is to be a great experience for the tourists. These types of socialist monuments are different because their intention is to make people remember by using the place for holding events (appropriate concerts etc.). Even at the beginning they knew it will be eternal if they make it enormous and marvelous for the future uses. Obviously, it has a lot of similarities with Monument to The Revolution on the Kozara Mountain, which has all mentioned characteristics of Yugoslav monument design. It is noticeable that both places represent interplay of light and darkness, both are very open and spacious, also with wide green areas both places are made so they can be used to hold important events. The main goal for Yugoslav designers was giving a meaning to everything they make, by playing with light and darkness and also using different shapes and materials (we see that on both monuments). Džamonja, designer of the Kozara monument, described it as cylindrical-shaped composed of twenty vertical segments, each being characterized by deep-set concrete pillars (positives) and hollows (negatives). While negatives symbolize death, positives represent victory and life. Horizontally positioned concrete blocks symbolize enemy forces who are trying to destroy life and victory but are unsuccessful. Also, none of the monuments from that period display any religious or national symbols that can draw attention. The norm is simple: those who fought for freedom deserve to be remembered.

I have personally understood some really important things by compering these Partisan monuments. All of them represent the real significance of gratitude and that freedom must be earned and valued just as people who fought for it.


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