SUTJESKA: symbol of history’s forgetfulness

 

The funeral of Josip Broz Tito was the closing theme of Requiem for Yugoslavia that started the day it was formed. 

It was a great conclusion written for millions of its citizens joined in a harmonious cry. 

Workers faced the end of their role in history.

 

FIGHT OF SUTJESTKA

In the southern Bosnia, there is one of many statues that represents Yugoslavian power and its fight for freedom.

It is the statue of the Fight of Sutjeska.

It si a symbol of the breakthrough of People’s Liberation Army of Yugoslavia in which they had crushed a ring which Nazi’s have formed around them in coalition with  Italians, Cossacks, and Bulgarians. They had sent 127.000 soldiers and 300 bombers to destroy the Yugoslavian army that consisted only of 18.000 partisans.

The battle took place from 27th of May until 15th of June in the year of 1943.

Tjentište, Ljubin Grob, Vučevo, Bare, Ličke Kolibe, Košuta, Popov Most, Suha, Vrbnica, Maglič and Volunjak that are placed in and around the valley of Sutjeska were sights of a revolutionary fight of the operation Nazi’s named Schwartz.

A battle was legendary. It was, at last, a justified hope for Balkan Slavs to finally become, after centuries of fights against various oppressors free and lords of their own land.

It was first of many victories to come. It was a symbol of their lust for independence.

To stay aware of their success and their power they had to crown place in a proper manner.

 

THE VALLEY OF THE HEROS

First, in the year of 1958, the ossuary was built to symbolize lives of 3.301 partisans that died for the liberation of Yugoslavia people. Above it, in the year of 1971, a massive and glorious statue was placed. It stands for partisans breakthrough to the freedom.

The Statue is work of sculptor Miodrag Živkovič. It is a masterpiece of socrealistic statue art. It consists of two symmetrically placed wings made out of white concrete. 19 meters high it was designed to perfectly fit a wilderness and the integrity of the area. Between two wings there is a passage created for the soldiers and visitors who come to pay homage to heroes and fallen soldiers. Plateau of Brigadiers is placed behind the statue. It is made out of stone ribbons on which the names of the soldiers are written. Statue was revealed in the year of 1971 by the president of Yugoslavia Josip Broz Tito.

There is also memorial house – an exclusive architectural work based on the idea of Dr. Dušan Plenče and art concept of Krsto Hegedušić. It was projected by the architect Ranko Radovič. They further eternalized the area with the museum, a big youth center, hotels, and 79 of monuments for national heroes. Soon Tjentište, the center of the Valley, had become a modern meeting place for those travelling around Yugoslavia.

Yugoslavia put a lot of attention to a youth, so it should be mentioned that young people of  the Republic actively participated in the construction of Valley of Heroes through Youth Working Brigades. Youth Working Brigades were working groups that were strongly involved into after war reparation of Yugoslavia and the construction of new infrastructure. They were organized and conducted by volunteers. One of the greatest successes made under these brigades were the entire Yugoslavian highway of Brotherhood and Unity, part of New Belgrade, railways, hydroelectric power plants, plants etc. 

For further immortalization of in the year of 1973, a movie directed by Stipe Delić in which Richard Burton played Josip Broz Tito, was shot.

 

FROM HISTORICAL  AVNOJ TO THE REFUGEE CONVOY*

After the death of one of the most mysterious historical figures, president Tito’s, people of Yugoslavia seem to have lost the object of their admiration. As there was nothing to replace such a strong and powerful image that Tito represented in their mind they started to wander around trying to find divinity that would replace him.

As in the tale of Moses, where his people betrayed him a minute after he walked up the holy mountain, it didn’t take long for people to return and seek comfort in past tribal tradition.

After the year of 1980 deviation started. Brotherhood and unity seemed like something unreachable, something that was a lie from the very beginning. Distrust spread among the people. They’ve separated themselves on the ground of their identity which they had before Yugoslavia was formed. It was like they have been drugged for 40 years, and now, facing the sobering people realized they have been playing brotherhood with their worst enemies.

Abused as they felt by the system and former leader, they start to grow hate towards each other. They were all taking sobering pills from their new leaders, dividing even further, forgetting culture, and clearing their mind through prayers and folklore.

After years of fueling the hostility, leaders whose slogan was DIVIDE AND RULE finally got their chance. People call it civil war but for those familiar with war the thing that was going on for 4 years this period was nothing more than barbarism and vandalism in which all this suffering caused by a Yugoslavian abuse of people by making them brothers, was manifested.

First, one to be ripped off and to be destroyed and demolished were the statues and symbols of former unity. Complete destruction and performance of the most primitive and vulgar acts were spread over with a speed of a sound.

Valley of Heroes was no exception. They have demolished a memorial house and museum. The only thing that was left over was a statue. And the only reason it is standing there still now is because 1.000 kg of explosive is needed to blow it into the air. Everything, except the statue, was demolished and robbed.

IMG_8998

photo: Aleksandar Mazzora

NATIONAL PARK OF SUTJESKA

Over this battlefield, on the ground where rivers of blood have flown, a glorious nature spreads its wings.

It is an area of the oldest national park in Bosnia, and it gained its status in the year of 1965. Spreading over 17.500 hectares it embraces with beauty cruelty of history and it defies it with its kindness of a goddess.

Valley of heroes is surrounded by unique mountains, one of which is the highest peak in Bosnia, Maglič with its 2386 meters. Maglič represents the border between Montenegro and BIH, and with its unreachability, it represents quite a challenge even for the experienced climbers. It attracts hikers, mountaineers, and other lovers of nature. And if you get bored by Maglič there are also a lot of other magnificent mountains that will satisfy your need for challenging Mountaineering and Hiking. Volujak, Vučevo, Zelengora and Maglič are all part of one of the most angelic mountain range Dinardi, that spreads deeply into the Balkan Peninsula.

The name of the valley was given to it after its main creator, the river of Sutjeska. Millions of years this pearl beauty had shaped its wild way through the sole of the park.

One of the hidden world treasures that attract many international biologists to come to this place is Primeval Forest Peručica. It is assumed that forest ages 20.000 years, and it is known that there was no human interference in the life of the forest.

Peručica is home to more than 170 species of trees and bushes, and around 1.000 of different kinds of herbs, from which many of them are endemic. It is, therefore, no surprise why this are is of special scientific interest. You will find trees older than 300 years, and higher than 50 meters. And besides unique flora and fauna, there is also a waterfall Skakavac, which was obviously named after its liveliness and playfulness (Skakavac means Grasshopper).

If you are looking for something that is wild as a consequence of tranquility than visiting this place is certainly a must do on your list. A place is perfect for those who adore unspoiled nature, researchers and biology lovers. It is a paradise for adventurous souls. It offers you possibilities of unique hiking and trekking, daring climbing and courageous mountain biking.

Adding to all that 8 glacial lakes of the Zelengora mountain, still, present bears and wolves, unexplored canyons of Hrčavka, and you have one of the greatest plans for your next trip.

*Should keep notice that Canyon Tare, Canyon Drina, Canyon Piva, and mountain range Durimtor are less than an hour of a drive.

 

 

 

 

Above all, Sutjeska represents glorious emptiness. 

Its symbolic feature represents not once gained freedom and brotherhood, but more a horrible faith one faces when believing in dreams of peace, independence, and love. 

Embraced by the vacuum of nature’s divinity you face horrors of men’s evil. 

 

And you stand there, while time slowly but surely eats remains of rebellion and fight against the fascism and nazism, thinking of new history that is currently being written and preached, you ask yourself:

“For what have those people died?”

 

 

 

*From historical ANVOJ to refugee CONVOY (original: Od istorijskog AVNOJA do izbjegličkog KONVOJA) is a chorus from a song Od istorijskog AVNOJA, recorded by the Non smoking orchestra (Zabranjeno pušenje) in the year of 1997. You can listen if you want and I will be glad to try translate it to anyone interested in its text 🙂

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