Name: Monument to Ivo Lola Ribar (Spomenik Ivu Loli Ribaru/Споменик Иви Лоли Рибар)
Location: Glamoč, FBiH, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Year completed: 1978
Designer: Mirko Ostoja
Coordinates: N44°04'20.3", E16°49'14.1" (click for map)
Dimensions: 7m tall monument
Materials used: Steel
Condition: Poor, neglected (see warning below)
This memorial sculpture, located at a spomenik complex in Glamoč, Bosnia, was built as a tribute to Partisan military leader and communist politician Ivo Lola Ribar (Иво Лола Рибар).
Born in Zagreb on April 23rd, 1916 to well-known Croatian politician Dr. Ivan Ribar, Ivo Lola Ribar (Photo 1) moved in his early childhood to Belgrade, where he spent the majority of his youth. After graduating from high school, he went on to study law at the University of Belgrade. During his time in university he joined the then illegal Young Communist League of Yugoslavia (SKOJ), a move which moved him for a time to Paris to study at several communist workshops. However, after the assassination in Paris of Alexander I, King of Yugoslavia in 1934, Ribar fled the city to Geneva, then back to Belgrade. In 1937 his political actions and leadership potential came to the eye of Josip Tito, then Secretary-General of the Yugoslav Communist Party, who appointed Ribar as the Secretary of the Party's Central Committee. During this time, Ribar vigorously engaged in political activism, where he organized communist newspapers, rallies, speeches and student movements. He finally graduated the University of Belgrade in 1939.
In January of 1949, Ribar was arrested for his illegal communist activities at Glavnjača, a Belgrade government administration building. He was sent by the Kingdom of Yugoslavia to a newly established prison for political dissidents in Bileća, Bosnia. However, by May of that same year, Ribar and the rest of the prisoners there were released after protests and public outrage over the prison's existence. After release, he was integrated back into the leadership of Yugoslavia's Communist Party. However, it was only a few months after Ribar's release from prison, in April of 1941, that WWII was brought to the region when Axis forces invaded and occupied the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Ever since the early days of the war, Ribar worked within the Communist Party leadership to organize local peoples into resistance groups and armed rebel forces for an eventual coordinated uprising. Then, in July of 1941, mass uprisings and revolts began across Yugoslavia against Axis occupiers and their collaborators. While Ribar spent considerable time coordinating these resistance forces at several locations in Serbia, the majority of his efforts were put into engaging with youth across the occupied lands, attempting to recruit them into the National Liberation movement.
Photo 1: Ivo Lola Ribar
Photo 2: Ribar's plane in Glamoč, just before being bombed by a German plane, Nov. 1943
In addition, the accomplishment Ribar is most often credited with is the spreading of the word of the Liberation Struggle, which he achieved by not only working towards the publication and distribution of anti-fascist literature, but also by organizing massive youth conferences on the topic of anti-fascism and Yugoslav freedom. However, after being personally named to Tito's 'Supreme Command', he was met with a variety of new duties and responsibilities. In October of 1943, Tito named Ribar the head of a Middle-East mission to travel to Cairo and stand as a representative of the Yugoslav resistance in front of the Allied Command. However, on November 27th, 1943, just as Ribar and his team were about to take off in their captured German plane to Cairo from an airfield near Glamoč, Bosnia, the plane was bombed by a German reconnaissance aircraft, killing all those on board. Among those killed were two British Army officers. Upon his death there in Glamoč, he was aged only 27 years old.
During the Yugoslav era, Ivo Lola Ribar was held up as one of the most enduring icons of the National Liberation movement. Not only did he perish in the war, but a majority of his family did as well, along with his fiance, who died at the death camps at Banja Luka. As such, he was regarded as a leader who gave all they had for the freedom of the people of Yugoslavia.
In the mid-1970s, local government and veteran groups in Livno and Glamoč organized the construction of a spomenik complex to be built near the airfield where Ribar was killed, just north of the village of Glamoč, Bosnia. The commission was given to designer Mirko Ostoja, who finished the memorial on 1978. It was officially unveiled to the public during a ceremony on November 27th of that same year, commemorating 35 years since Ribar's death. The primary sculptural element of the complex is a roughly 7m tall abstract metal sculpture, situated in the center of a newly planted pine forest. The metal in which this sculpture is made from is recovered directly from the plane wreckage in which Ribar died within. Along the stone paved pathway to the sculpture, there is a stone memorial wall with engraved quotes by both Ribar and Tito, along with several other smaller memorial elements scattered around the site. Built several dozen meters east of the memorial sculpture was a small museum made of pine wood, designed by architect N. Nešković, which originally contained many artifacts and exhibits detailing the life of Ribar.
While this spomenik complex was a popular tourist destination during the Yugoslav era, due to the popular legacy of Ribar promoted by the Communist Party, it fell into neglect and disarray after the 1990s, as Yugoslavia began to be dismantled. The conflicts of the Bosnian War, which also affected the region of Glamoč, took a significant toll on the monument. Today it sits largely abandoned and unused. While the sculpture itself is still in reasonable condition, there is significant damage to many other elements of the complex, especially the museum. While I have found no official efforts by any government bodies to restore or rehabilitate the complex, there are some veterans groups who are interested in undertaking a refurbishment of the site, but as of 2017, the memorial still sits abandoned and untouched. However, the situation for the monument is even further complicated due to it having now been absorbed into the grounds of a nearby military complex. As such, I would highly advise against attempting to access this site in any fashion unless you are able to secure explicit permission.
Plaques, Engravings and Graffiti:
There are several inscribed elements at the memorial comeplx here at Glamoč. The primary inscribed element is a sizeable stone memorial wall along the main pathway leading to the central sculpture monument from the road. A historic photo from the 1970s of its original condition can be seen in Slide 1, while photos of its current condition as of 2014 can be seen in Slides 2 & 3. The engraved stone panel on the right (Slide 4) contains a quote by Ivo Lola Ribar, which translates into English as:
"Young people, give your lives calmly without the look of youthfulness on your face."
Ivo Lola Ribar
An upper half of this panel once existed, which contained additional words to this quote, but this upper half is now missing. If I find historic photos of the full quote from panel in the future, I will update the above quote with that new information. Meanwhile, the engraved stone panel on the left of the memorial wall bears a inscribed quote from Josip Tito (Slide 5). This inscription, translated into English, reads as:
"There are some who fight and struggle, not only for a future for themselves, but for future generations, as well."
In addition, there is a roughly hewn stone near the memorial sculpture which has set within it an engraved black granite panel (Slide 6). The inscription on this panel is a poetic stanza from the work "Songs About my Country" ("Pjesme o mojoj zemlji"), written in 1968 by the Croatian poet Jure Kaštelan. The inscribed stanza reads, when translated into English, as:
"If I go into the void, send a greeting to the living, which moves from grave to heart, a possession through the darkness, a song that does not go; freedom, freedom."
Images from the above slideshow come from screen-captures from a video posted by YouTube user pd.busija glamoč, who presented historic photos and documented the current state of this spomenik complex.
Located several dozen meters to the east of the central sculpture memorial there was originally built a small museum complex at the spomenik complex here at Glamoč, Bosnia (Slide 1). When it was first opened to the public in 1978, the museum contained many artifacts, exhibits and educational displays relating to the life of Ivo Lola Ribar and his death at the nearby airfield. However, after the collapse of Yugoslavia and the ensuing war in Bosnia during the 1990s, the museum was abandoned, which allowed it to fall subject to neglect, theft, vandalism and its eventual destruction. Images of the state of the museum's interior as of the mid-2010s can be seen in Slides 2 - 5. The museum is, as of present, open to elements, which will no doubt only hasten its further degradation. I am aware of no plans to restore the museum or to rehabilitate the structure.
Memorial Museum - Slideshow
The monument here at Glamoč, Bosnia, which commemorates Ivo Lola Ribar, with its many sharp criss-crossing metal points, appears to be completely abstract and non-representative in nature. However, when meditating on the sculpture's shape, one might be able to discern a highly stylized human form (perhaps even holding a weapon) within the artwork, which may possibly have even been intended to represent Ribar himself. Which of these interpretations is true is not immediately clear, as I was not able to find any information as to what the sculpture's designer, Mirko Ostoja, intended the viewer to see in this piece of artwork. However, some sources do indicate that the metal material used in this memorial sculpture is actual wreckage from the airplane in which Ribar died in. Consequently, using this material to create a monument dedicated to Ribar would certainly be symbolic of the process of 'rebirth', with the mangled pieces of metal surrounding Ribar upon his death being reformed and reshaped into a structure which celebrates his life.
Status and Condition:
When evaluating the current state of the Ivo Lola Ribar monument complex at Glamoč, it is found to be in an extremely derelict condition, verging on what could be considered to be completely abandoned. The landscaping around the site are now overgrown and neglected, with the vegetation left to fall back into a natural wild state. Meanwhile, the primary sculpture, along with all other memorial elements at this site, are no longer maintained, with a number of them damaged or even completely destroyed. The complex has undergone even more significant deterioration since its grounds were absorbed into the "Barbara" military compound of the Livno/Glamoč Combat Training Centre in 1998. The site is currently completely surrounded by barbed-wire fencing and should be considered strictly off-limits to any visitors. To emphasize, I strongly recommend against attempting to access this site without express permission from the Training Centre. Meanwhile, the small museum attached to this site currently sits abandoned and is open to the elements, with all exhibits and artifacts it once contains having been either stolen or destroyed. There are no directional or promotional signs leading visitors or tourists to this memorial, nor are there any interpretive or informational signs at the site itself informing visitors to the site's cultural or historic significance.
Photo 3: Logo for the restoration activist group "Ivo Lola nije sam"
Meanwhile, there are no indications that locals in the community visit or pay tribute to this memorial in any appreciable way. In addition, there are also no signs that any commemorative or remembrance events are held here any longer. As far as I was able to discern, there are no official efforts by any governmental groups intend to restore this monument or repair the damage which it has incurred. This lack of action by any government to restore this site is not unusual, as much of the historical legacy left behind from the Yugoslav-era regarding Ribar has been forgotten or removed (and continues to be targeted for vandalism to this day). For example, a plaque marking Ribar's place of birth in Zagreb was removed in 1991, meanwhile, the name of a street in Belgrade bearing his name was changed around the same time. However, there are some veterans groups in the region who are attempting to organize mass gatherings and a rehabilitation effort at this site in the coming years, but as of yet, these efforts are yet to manifest. In addition, even despite its degraded state, in the official 2014 guide [PDF] put out by the tourist association of Glamoč, the Ivo Lola Ribar monument is listed as a potential touristic asset. In 2019, a news report detailed how renewed grassroots efforts are increasing behind the effort to restore and rehabilitate the monument complex. Much of the encouragement for this resortation effort is being put forward by a group called "Ivo Lola nije sam" (Ivo Lola Is Not Alone) (Photo 3).
Finding the location of the abandoned memorial complex in Glamoč is a relatively easy endeavor. From the town center of Glamoč, head north on road M15. Follow this for roughly 4km until you come to the intersection of road R415b. Take a left here and then immediately find a parking space on the left side of the road. There should be a worn down area to park in. As the site is completely surrounded by barbed-wire, you will have to seek permission from the military training center before being able to secure access into the site. As I stated above, I STRONGLY recommend against sneaking onto the site to see the monument. Also, if you are able to get access, the small old abandoned museum is located just east of the monument complex. The exact coordinates for parking are N44°04'20.3", E16°49'16.4".
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Selected Sources and More Information:
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