Name: Kadinjača Memorial Complex (Спомен комплекс Кадињача)
Location: 14km NW of Užice, Serbia (prounounced 'OO-zheets-eh')
Year completed: 1952, with expansion in 1979 (2 years to build)
Designer: Miodrag Živković (profile page) and Aleksandar Đokić
Coordinates: N43°54'43.7", E19°44'33.7" (click for map)
Dimensions: Large complex covering 15ha
Materials used: Poured concrete, rebar and granite blocks
Condition: Very good, well maintained
Click on slideshow photos for description
This spomenik complex at Kadinjača, Serbia commemorates fallen Partisan fighters from Posavina and Orasje and all the fighters from the Worker's Battalion who perished at this spot fighting against German forces during the Battle of Kadinjača on November 29th, 1941.
World War II
The series of events that led to the Battle of Kadinjača began in the autumn of 1941, when Partisans liberated the region around the city of Užice, which was formerly under the control of German-occupied Serbia. Partisans called this liberated area the 'Republic of Užice' and it stood as the first liberated territory within Axis occupied-Europe. Within Užice, the Partisans set up their command headquarters within the town's central bank, using the facility's underground vaults for a munitions manufacturing. With his Partisan troops liberating the expelling German forces from the region and establishing this new Partisan-controlled Republic, commander Josip Tito traveled from hiding in Belgrade to join his forces at Užice. In response to this action by the Partisans, the Germans put into action "Operation Užice", which was the first German led anti-Partisan effort of WWII. The aim of this operation was to not only take back this Partisan-held territory, but furthermore, it was the first in a long series of offensives through the war by the Germans to decapitate and eliminate the entire Partisan resistance movement.
In late November of 1941, Partisan intelligence informed Marshal Josip Tito, commander of the Partisans, that an attack by German soldiers was imminent. German planes began bombing the city on November 22nd, with one bomb striking the bank building the Partisans were using as their HQ, an event which caused an explosion in the underground vault where munitions were being manufactured, killing +120 people. Then, on November 28th, Užice's Worker's Battalion, along with two Partisan units from Posavina and Orasje, all commanded by Andrija Đurović, were ordered to intercept the German Wehrmacht 342nd Infantry Division who had been spotted advancing up towards Kadinjača mountain, only 14km away from the edge of Užice (Photo 1). Before the Germans troops were able to reach the ridge of Kadinjača they were intercepted by the Partisan forces at 8am on the morning of November 29th. The German 342nd Infantry Division, made up of well over 3,000 soldiers, far outnumbered the roughly 400 fighters of the Partisan Worker's Battalion, yet, the Partisan unit fought on regardless. As a consequence, nearly all of members of the Worker's Battalion were killed in combat, yet, they stood their ground against the Wehrmacht for nearly 6 hours, giving ample time for a retreat of civilians and Partisan leadership at the Supreme Headquarters out of Užice and to safety.
Photo 1: Worker's Battalion fighters rallying in Užice before leaving for Kadinjača, Nov. 28th 1941.
Photo 2: Yugoslav poster for the 1974 film 'Republic of Užice'
By the end of that same day, the city of Užice fell to the advancement of these German units. However, while Užice fell back under Axis control, the German's overall mission to capture Tito and destroy the Partisan resistance was a failure as the Partisan leadership was able flee the city and escape to the sanctuary of the Sandžak region. During the Partisan's engagement on Kadinjača mountain, even despite all the Partisan's efforts and mass loss of life they incurred, only two German soldiers were killed during the conflict. After the end of WWII and the establishment of Yugoslavia, the town of Užice changed it name to 'Titovo Užice' in honor of Tito and his Partisan's ambitious establishment of one of the first breakaway territories of WWII.
Furthermore, the events of the battle, and the fall of Užice, were depicted in a 1974 Yugoslav film called 'Republic of Užice' ('Užička republika'/'Ужичка република'), which was directed by Serbian filmmaker Žika Mitrović (Photo 2) This film was even successful in international markets, where it was re-titled as "Guns of War" for English speaking audiences. The film went on to win awards both at the Pula Film Awards and also the Moscow International Film Festival. This film can be watched for free in its entirety on this website at the Spomenik Database Video Archive.
In 1952, a modest 11m tall marble pyramid-spire memorial, designed by Stevan Živanović, was built near the summit of Kadinjača Mountain, under which was built a crypt where the remains of the Worker's Battalion soldiers who died during the 1941 battle were interred. The marble for the pyramid was sourced from the nearby village of Karan. However, in late 1962, the SUBNOR veterans group and the municipalities of Užice and Bajina Basta devised plans for a much more expansive memorial complex to be added to compliment the stone pyramid crypt. After a prolonged budget-related delay and a lengthy pre-construction planning process (which included a public discussion in Užice on the monument's potential design in 1976), the Užice Municipal Assembly chose the concept submitted by sculptor Miodrag Živković and architect Aleksandar Đokić in 1977 for the creation of Kadinjača's expansion (Photo 3). One reason that the proposal of Živković & Đokić was chosen was that it successfully incorporated the original 1952 pyramid into their design, a feature which SUBNOR was adamant about doing. Originally SUBNOR had approached famous Belgrade architect and monument builder Bogdan Bogdanović to submit a proposal, but when Bogdanović's submission refused to incorporate the pyramid, SUBNOR rejected the design. The monument solution that Živković & Đokić proposed was highly ambitious and would not only expand the memorial complex, but also bring a new modernist aesthetic/sculptural tone to the site. In discussing his ideas for devising this concept for the Kadinjača complex, Živković made the following comments in a 1976 interview with a Belgrade newspaper (translated here into English):
"I wanted my monument to ascend with a landscape, to remain as part of the history of that region, that physical space. When I started to work on the Kadinjača project, together with the architect Aleksandar Dokić, who was the project's architect, I went many times to that place. There again I read the poem "Kadinjača" by Slavko Vukosavljević, feeling as if it were a living response to the Workers' Battalion, the determination of these fighters to save the revolution, to enable the withdrawal of the Supreme Headquarters from Uzice, in a word, they were aware of their high rank and their responsibilities. All that seemed to have lived in that place. I sat down and tried to figure out how to express their decision through sculptural material - stone. So, I made a series of elements from the so-called white concrete, (a stone joined with white cement), tall and sharp (18 meters high), which fit into the figuration of the terrain, emphasizing the ridge of the ridge, symbolizing the rebellion and strength of the Workers' Battalion, their consciousness and decision."
Photo 3: A model of Živković's initial 1976 proposal for the Kadinjača monument complex
Construction on the monument began on July 1st, 1977, with the project being significantly funded by local organizations and private donations, with other money coming from the government of the SR of Serbia. Newspaper sources from the era quote the cost of the project around 30 million Yugoslav dinars, which would convert into roughly 1.6 million USD in 1979 dollars or roughly 5.5 million USD in 2020 dollars. Additional assistance on creating the many sculptural elements needed for this project was provided by two of Živković's close sculpting colleagues: Ladislav Fekete and Puteš Ajdin. Interestingly, the initial concept that Živković proposed for the central monolith of his monument complex was originally of a much different design and configuration, arranged instead more like a large fracture (Photo 4) rather than the star-burst/bullet-hole motif that was finally settled upon. It is unclear why (or when) this element was so drastically changed between concept and completion. Construction on the new Kadinjača memorial project was conducted from 1977 to 1979 (Photo 5). It is interesting to point out that during the construction of this monument, work was accomplished by not only professional tradesmen, but also by Youth Work Action (ORA) volunteer groups comprised of diverse young people who gave their time as part of a patriotic service to their country.
Photo 4: Živković's original concept for the central Kadinjača memorial sculpture, 1976
Photo 5: Elements of the Kadinjača monument complex under construction by stone masons during 1978
The complex was formally opened during a grand ceremony at the site on September 23rd, 1979, which was personally presided over by Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito himself and reportedly attended by nearly 100,000 people (Photo 6). During this unveiling ceremony, Tito gave the inaugural address (full text can be read at THIS link [PDF - page 250]), within which included the following introductory statements (translated here into English):
"Allow me to welcome you to one of the most sacred pages of our People's Liberation Struggle and the Socialist Revolution, where it was written in 1941, and where we unveil this impressive memorial today, to greet the survivors of these fateful events and others who are here who came from all over our country to magnify this truly magnificent gathering. The presence of you veterans, citizens and youth in such numbers, at the scene of the legendary Battle at Kadinjača, is an expression of our due recognition and deepest gratitude to those who laid down their lives for freedom and independence, for the Brotherhood and Unity of our peoples and nationalities, for the right to be alone by our own will and choice, all as we are building a better and happier future."
The new addition of Živković's sculptural elements to the spomenik complex consisted of several segments... firstly, a museum complex (designed by Aleksandar Đokić) which is called Spomen-Dom Kadinjača. Following this was a sprawling and undulating series of white painted concrete pylons emanating from the earth at different angles and sizes which was named 'Alley of the Worker's Battalion', with this 'alley' following the ridge of the hill. The focal point of these undulating white concrete pylons are a pair together which are tallest among the rest (~14m). This tall flat pair, arranged side-by-side like a wide wall, have their upper-half pierced with what resembles a bullet-hole like opening (within which face-like forms can be seen). In addition, a large amphitheatre was built in the center of the complex, named the 'Plateau of Freedom', which hosted educational presentations, 'Young Pioneer' meetings and school gatherings. Interestingly, in the final form of the redevelopment of the old memorial by Miodrag Živković, the original stone pyramid element was not removed or minimized... in fact, Živković's new sculptural elements are often credited for enhancing and highlighting the original memorial element, especially in the way in which it emphasizes rather than over-takes it.
Photo 6: A view of the 1979 opening ceremony at the Kadinjača memorial complex
In 1984, a new memorial element was added to the site on the hillside just a few dozen meters southwest of the spomenik's museum to commemorate the death of President Josip Tito. The memorial consisted of the planting of 88 trees to symbolize the 88 years of Tito's life. In addition, a paved pathway was included around the trees along with displays of several WWII artillery cannons. This new memorial was called "Partisan Woods'.
Yugoslav Wars to Present-Day
During the Yugoslav-era, the Kadinjača memorial complex was an intensely popular site (a mandatory stop for most Yugoslav school children), with sources indicating that over 2.3 million domestic and foreign tourists visted it during that time period. This continued up until the 1990s, a time which brought about the dismantling of Yugoslavia and the onset of the Yugoslav Wars. Firstly, as a result, in 1992, the town of Titovo Užice changed its name back to simply 'Užice', perhaps to distance itself from its Partisan heritage during the wave of Serbian nationalism that swept across the country during the early 1990s. Secondly, sources relate that during this same period, the Kadinjača memorial complex began to fall into a state of disuse and neglect. It was not until 2012 that the site was fully rehabilitated. As of present-say, the spomenik complex at Kadinjača continues to be well maintained, with many thousands of visitors a year still come to visit this site (though not as many as during the height of the Yugoslav-era), while many annual commemorative events are still regularly held here. In addition, there are future plans to include further memorial elements, as well as plans to renovate the museum and the monument's lighting systems. Some of this work may be carried out at some point during 2020-2025, during the time which a new motorway tunnel will be built underneath Kadinjača mountain. One indication that the monument is still widely honored and positively recognized across Serbia is the country's post office releasing a Kadinjača commemorative stamp in 2016.
Photo 7: Artwork by New Mexico artist Frol Boundin
Photo 8: Monument at Musa Dagh, Armenia [Photo by Darmon Richter]
During the 2010s, as the imagery of the Yugoslav memorial sites reached a wider international audience, the dramatic aesthetics of Živković's central monument here at Kadinjača has resulted in it consistently being among the most widely recognized Yugoslav spomeniks. A significant amount of examples can be found of world sculptors, photographers and other types of graphic artists capturing the monument's form in their artwork (Photo 7). One curious example of the monument's recent recreation is at the Battle of Musa Dagh memorial complex (Photo 8) in Ptghunk, Armenia, which commemorates the 1915 Armenian Genocide. This monument at Musa Dagh [coordinates] was created in the lead up to the 100th anniversary to the genocide, which was marked in 2015. I was unable to determine the author of this monument or why it was created in such a similar likeness to the Kadinjača monument.
Finally, it is also notable to mention that the Kadinjača monument received media attention in the fall of 2018 when a Serbian fashion designer "P.S. Fashion" (based out of the nearby town of Čačak) used the memorial site as the backdrop for a fashion photoshoot for a new clothing line they were marketing. The fashion designer using the monument in such a way was widely criticized in media outlets and on social networks.
Plaques, Engravings and Graffiti:
The central element of the Kadinjača memorial is still the original stone pyramid monument built back in 1952. As you approach it from the walkway from the parking lot and visitors center, the first thing you'll see on the front of it is a short inscription on an engraved stone plaque (Slide 1). Translated from Serbian to English, it reads:
"Heroes of Kadinjača"
After that, going around to the left side of the pyramid, you'll see a second engraved plaque set into the side of the pyramid (Slide 2). This engraving is a stanza from the famous poem "Kadinjača" by Užice poet Slavko Vukosavljević. It translates from Serbian to English as:
"My beloved country, did you know the whole battalion died here? The blood blooms through the fallen snow, cold and white. During the night, wind swept away the traces, but still in the south, the army walks. The 14th kilometer fell, but Kadinjača never will!"
In the poem, the phrase '14th kilometer' refers to the distance between Užice and this site, which was how far the Fighters Workers Battalion soldiers marched before falling here to German forces. Then, on the opposite side of the pyramid from this stone plaque, there is another stone plaque with a continuation of the Vukosavljević poem (Slide 3). It roughly translates from Serbian to English as:
"Who wouldn't love you Užice?! You were a city of pain and joy... and who could get over you now, a red fruit born in uprising! Someone will fall, someone will come. Oh city, my friend. Oh city, my kin. There will be sorrow, but it'll go away... and you will be flushed with freedom!"
As you are walking from the pyramid towards Živković's series of white pillars and shapes, there is a small bronze circular platform (Slide 4) set into the grass next to the wavy paved pathway. On this bronze platform is an relief inscription of a speech given by then President of Yugoslavia Josip Tito. It roughly translates from Serbian to English as:
"There are rare examples in history of wars where one extremely powerful and heavily armed enemy faces blowback from a very small regiment of heroes. This is an example [of that] and is inspiration for younger generations, as far as gaining and defending freedom and independence of their country."
-TITO, Sept. 23rd, 1979-
President of Yugoslavia
"Tito revealed this monument for the heroes of Kadinjača and he gave the title of 'National Hero' to the whole Worker's Batallion."
On the other side of the monument complex from here, there is small grove of trees which the pathway snakes through. While there are many old pieces of artilery scattered around here, there is also a small concrete platform on which there is another bronze plaque (Slide 5) with a relief inscription. It roughly translates from Serbian to English as:
"Partisan line of trees: 88 trees for Comrade Tito. These trees were planted by the participants of the Gathering of Partisans of Yugoslavia in 1984, in Užice."
At the entrance parking area for this spomenik complex is a memorial museum called Spomen-Dom Kadinjača (Slide 1). Designed by Serbian architect Aleksandar Đokić, this building was opened in 1979 and built along side of the rest of the expansion project by Miodrag Živković. One of the centerpieces of the interior design of the Spomen-Dom is a massive stained-glass window depicting the battle between the Germans and Partisans (Slide 2). Originally the museum complex is contained a series of historical exhibits related to the battle which occurred here during WWII (Slide 3 & 4). However, in recent decades additional exhibits were added to the museum relating to the 1999 NATO bombings of Serbia (Slide 5). Since the creation of the structure it has been plagued with roof issues. In 2015 efforts began to totally replace the roof and repair longstanding problems with the building (Slide 6). This work is ongoing as of the spring of 2018. A historic photo of the Spomen-Dom can be seen in Slides 7 - 10. It is open Mon.-Sat. 9:00-15.00h.
'Spomen-Dom Kadinjača' - Slideshow
Photo 9: Staring faces within the central sculpture
The primary element of the 1979 addition to the Kadinjača memorial complex, created by Miodrag Živković, was the expansive undulating series of white concrete pylons built around the original memorial. The most prominent of these pylons is a matching set of two which are taller than all the rest. This tallest set is characterized by a large bullet-hole-like opening piercing its center. This bullet-hole motif most certainly symbolizes the violence met upon the Worker's Battalion fighters as they battled against German soldiers in 1941 to make time for the evacuation of civilians from the Kadinjača and Užice areas... a fight that most of them would lose their lives during. Visible within many of these pylons you can see vaguely present stylized human forms and faces emerging (Photo 9), almost appearing as writhing tortured souls. It can be assumed that these forms are a depiction of the soldiers of the Worker's Battalion themselves, screaming out during their final moments. Even within the shards of the 14m tall 'bullet-hole' sculpture, the same horror-stricken faces can be seen gazing out, forever trapped within the circle of violence.
An additional symbolic element of the 'bullet-hole' sculptural monolith is its height of 14m. This number '14' is meant to be a reference to the 14km that exists between the battle site here at Kadinjača and the town of Užice in the valley below... a distance that was traversed by the Worker's Battalion in the winter of 1941, who subsequently gave their lives in order to protect the Tito and the rest of the Partisan Army from being captured and defeated the advancing German Army. This monolith's connection to Užice is further emphasized with its circular opening pointing down the valley exactly in the direction of the town.
Photo 10: The organic rounded elements (left) compared to the sharp angular elements (right)
Meanwhile, flanking either side of the pathway leading up to the 14m tall monolith is a series of undulating sculptural forms bursting from the ground, with some being organic and rounded, while others are sharp and geometric. Sources relate that these elements are meant to symbolize the resistance and defense of the Partisans who held this hill during the battle at this location. Furthermore, perhaps the two types of sculptural forms found here represent the battle's two opposing sides, where the rounded organic shapes (often adorned with heads and faces) represent the Partisans, while the sharp featureless angular forms (which bear no faces) represent the descending German forces (Photo 10). This symbolism is reinforced by seeing that as the sharp angular forms ascend to their highest point with 14m tall monolith pinnacle (perhaps symbolizing the tragic climax of the battle), the monolith is then dramatically pierced, as if with a bullet, with a circle of round organic faces (perhaps symbolizing Tito and his army's elusive escape from the grasp of the descending German forces, gained at the great loss of Partisan lives). As such, the monument could be viewed as a symbol of freedom which comes at a great cost.
Status and Condition:
The Kadinjača spomenik complex is in excellent condition and very well maintained. Firstly, the grounds are well kept and landscaped, while there are a great number of directional and promotional signs easily leading visitors to it from Užice and surrounding towns. The memorial is also promoted as a touristic destination in many parts of the region and it has at its entrance a multi-language interpretive sign relating the historical significance of the location in both Serbian, English and Russian. It is patronized and honored by many thousands of local visitors and tourists each year, while large official commemorative celebrations are still being held here annually (Photo 11), generally on September 29th in order to honor the deaths of the fighters of the Worker's Battalion.
The one aspect of the monument I found lacking upon visiting in 2018 was the Spomen-Dom center/museum complex, which was not open for visitation, yet, no signs that work was being done to it. However, sources relate to me that as of 2019 that the Spomen-Dom is again opened to the public. If this status has changed upon your most recent visit, please contact me!
Photo 11: A memorial ceremony at the Kadinjača complex, 2016
Additional Sites in the Užice Area:
This section will explore other Yugoslav-era historic, cultural and memorial sites around the area of the city of Užice, the city in which the Kadinjača memorial complex is near (14km away). The two sites which will be examined in this section are, firstly, Partisan/City Square in Užice which formerly contained a large statue of Tito, as well as the Užice National Museum complex.
Tito's Monument at Partisan Square
A central feature at the heart of Užice's unique valley-constrained cityscape is a massive central plaza. Work began in Užice on the construction of this square in December of 1959 after the initiation of an extensive urbanization project, spearheaded by the architect team Stanko Mandić and Milorad Pantović. This project was part of an effort to not only modernize Užice, but also to recognize it for the role it played in the uprising with creating the Republic of Užice in 1941. The demolition of a significant sector of the city core was necessary in order to make room for the new square. Inaugurated on the 20th anniversary of Yugoslav Uprising Day (July 4th, 1961), this sprawling area was named 'Partisan Square' (Trg partizana), around which was included a post office, department stores, government buildings and a massive theatre complex. However, the most symbolic inclusion within this square was a prominent 5m tall bronze sculpture of Yugoslav president Josip Tito (Photo 12), which was titled "Son of the Peoples & Nationalities" (Sin naroda i narodnosti) and created by famous Croatian sculptor Frano Kršinić.
Photo 12: Sculpture of Tito at Partisan Square, 1970s
Photo 13: A view of the Hotel Zlatibor
Buildings of significant notability in Partisan Square are, firstly, the Cultural House (later designated as the National Theatre of Užice), which can be found on the north end of the square and was designed by architect Stanko Mandić (opened in 1967). This building can be seen in the background of the Tito statue in Photo 11. Meanwhile, located on the south end of the square is another significant building called 'Hotel Zlatibor' (хотел Златибор) (Photo 13). This hotel, created in 1981 by famous Montenegrin female architect Svetlana Kana Radević [profile page], is a 60m tall and 16 story high-rise tower designed in the brutalist style of architecture. The building's ambitious (and somewhat confrontational) design dominates the skyline of the city and has left some of Užice's residents feeling somewhat lukewarm towards its bare and stark concrete form, with some locals derisively referring to it as 'Sivonja' or 'Grey Ox'. For more info about Hotel Zlatibor, check out the article I have written dedicated to this impressive building available at THIS link.
Photo 14: The statue of Tito in Partisan Square being torn down, 1991
As the dismantling of Yugoslavia began in the early 1990s, discussion began about the future of the Tito sculpture at the heart of Partisan Square. Then, as conflicts and violence were raging across Yugoslavia, on August 28th, 1991 (roughly 40 years after the statue was erected) a large crowd of protestors assembled in the square as rumors began to spread about the monument's potential fall. Government orders were then issued to topple the statue, at which point a large crane brought the structure to the ground (Photo 14). The statue was then moved about 1/2 kilometer east to an inconspicuous area behind the Užice National Museum. In recent years, some groups have spoken to replace the statue to its prominent location in Partisan Square, but as of yet, no action has yet been taken towards such initiatives. The exact coordinates for the original location for Tito's sculpture within Partisan Square (today often called 'City Square' [Gradski trg]) are N43°51'25.1", E19°50'24.2".
Užice National Museum
As the Užice Republic was established in September of 1941, the Partisans took as their headquarters a set of bank buildings. Built in 1940, just before the start of WWII, the bank complex was originally part of the National Bank of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. In July of 1946, this bank complex was set up as a local museum called the 'The Museum of Uprising' commemorating the town's revolutionary history, but then, in April of 1963, these buildings were transformed into a much more extensive museum facility called the Užice National Museum (Narodni muzej Užice) (Photo 15).
Photo 16: The 1961 Anastasijević sculpture, 1980s
As mentioned in the above section regarding the monument to Tito in Užice's Partisan Square, the statue was relocated to the Užice National Museum complex in 1991 after it was removed during the start of the Yugoslav Wars conflicts. It was then situated in an inconspicuous location against a concrete retaining wall behind the north building of the museum complex (Photo 18). However, while this location for the statue was clearly chosen to not draw attention to it, the sculpture still remains a popular attraction, especially as it is the largest Tito sculpture in the former Yugoslavia. The exact location of the Užice National Museum is N43°51'15.0", E19°50'47.1", while the museum's official English language website with more information can be found here.
Photo 15: The Užice National Museum
Since its opening, the museum has contained various exhibits (some permanent and some rotating) that explore the region's military, cultural, ethnographic, artistic and archeological history. In addition to the museum inhabiting the former-bank buildings, the museum exhibits also extend into the bank's former underground vaults and treasury. It was within these subterranean rooms that Partisans manufactured their own munitions during WWII. Upon the site being bombed by Germans on November 22nd, 1941, a massive explosion of ignited munitions swept through the vaults that killed well over 120 Partisans soldiers and workers. The death toll of the bombing was especially high because many of the city's civilian residents used the underground facility for shelter at the onset of the bombings. Next to the south building of the museum is a bronze memorial work by sculptor Borislav Anastasijević (created in 1961) which commemorates all those who died in that 1941 vault explosion. The sculpture depicts three thin lines representing blast shock-waves lifting a flailing lifeless victim into the air (Photo 16). In addition, within an alcove of the underground vaults of the museum is another 1961 memorial work that honors the victims of the explosion. This work was created by sculptor Nebojša Mitrić and is an abstract form created from various pieces of metal weapon and ammunition debris left over from the 1941 blast (Photo 17).
Photo 17: The Nebojša Mitrić sculpture at Užice National Museum
Photo 18: Tito statue's new location at Užice National Museum
Additional Sites of Interest
Lomača Monument at Dovarj Cemetery: Near the north entrance to Dovarj Cemetery in Užice is a small memorial complex which marks the location where Dušan Jerković and Vukol Dabić, two local leaders within the Partisan uprising in Užice. Jerković was a former teacher in Užice who went on to become the first leader of the Užice Partisan Detachment, taking part in the town's liberation and the establishment of the Republic of Užice. He was subsequently killed in November of 1941 fighting with the Worker's Battalion during the Battle of Kadinjača. Meanwhile, Dabić was from the nearby village of Buar and also joined the Partisan movement at the beginning of WWII. During the Republic of Užice, Dabić, like Jerković, also took a leadership role in the military command of the territory. However, as Partisans were overcome by German Army forces at Kadinjača, Dabić took his own life on December 13th, 1941 rather than be captured. The next day on December 14th, the bodies of both Dabić and Jerković were burned by German Army soldiers in a funeral pyre on top of a rocky outcrop overlooking Užice near Dovarj Cemetery. In 1968, the site of this pyre was turned into a monument dedicated to both men. The central element of this memorial complex is a sculpture known as "Lomača" (Pyre) which consists of a pair of abstractly carved flowstone pillars (~2-3m tall), resembling dancing flames. The complex was designed by Belgrade architect Uglješa Bogunović, while his wife Milica Ribnikar created the memorial sculpture. In front of this monument is a commemorative bronze plaque bearing a short poetic inscription written by local Užice poet Slavko Vukosavljević. A photo of the monument can be seen in Photo 19, while the exact coordinates for its location are N43°51'05.4", E19°51'03.9".
Photo 19: A recent photo of the Lomača Monument in Užice, Serbia. [source]
Photo 20: A recent photo of the Stari Grad Fortress in Užice, Serbia [source]
Stari Grad Fortress: Perched on a dramatic cliff overlooking the Đetinja River just east of the Užice city center are the ruined remains of a 12th century medieval stone fortress (Photo 20). Not only does the fortress have a fascinating history, relating the story of 500 years of Ottoman occupation, but amazing views and vistas can also be seen from this ancient location. Reaching the fortress is a short 15 minute (1km) walk from the Užice city center. The exact coordinates for the fortress are N43°51'07.5", E19°49'43.0".
The Partisan Mosaic at Sevojno: Just on the edge of the small village of Sevojno in the eastern suburbs of Užice along the main highway (about 5km east of the city center) is a modest memorial mosaic wall dedicated to the Partisans of WWII (Photo 21). The mosaic is composed of a depiction of what appears to be a Partisan fighter kneeling down and looking off into the distance, while he holds a rifle in his right hand. He is framed by a whole array of additional rifles arranged behind him in the background. Little information is known about this mosaic, as far as what it is memorializing exactly, who created it and when it was created. It is in a poor condition and does not appear well maintained. The exact coordinates of this memorial mosaic at Sevojno are N43°50'07.8", E19°52'54.3".
Photo 21: A photo I took of the memorial mosaic at Sevojno
The Mosaics of Rade Vergović in Užice: Rade Vergović, who was a native of Užice (born in 1939), started out his artistic career as an actor in the 1950s, being featured in a number of Yugoslav-era films, most notably starring the 1958 film "The Door Remains Open/Vrata ostaju otvorena" by director František Čap. However, he later gave up acting in the 1960s and dedicated himself to art. During the 60s, he created several memorial mosaic works around the city of Užice in commemoration of his hometown (Photos 22 - 24). In the first image here (Photo 22), we see one Vergović's mosaics which he made at what is now Alpha Bank at Dimitrija Tucovića 42 [coordinates]. This large mosaic depicts a view of Užice's Partisan Square, with representations of the 1961 Tito statue by Frano Kršinić, as well as the National Theatre of Užice, the Stari Grad Fortress, among other city sights. Furthermore, huge gears can be seen at the center of the mosaic, symbolizing Užice as a city of great industry and production, while white doves of peace can also be seen fluttering above the city. Meanwhile, the second mosaic of Vergović's is located at the Central Užice Post Office at Mihajla Pupina 5 [coordinates], with this one depicting a postage stamp-like image of a vibrant dove carrying a paper note in its beak (Photo 23). Finally, the third mosaic is located inside the "Dunav Osiguranje" offices at Nikola Pašić 22 [coordinates], right next to the Užice National Museum (Photo 24). This mosaic shows a scene dominated by two female forms in the foreground, while a skyline of Užice appears in the background (with what looks like Hotel Zlatibor). Vergović's mosaic style is characterized by a muted color palette as well as a very energetic sense of motion and atmosphere that punctuates his work. These three mosaic works are not widely known about and little information about their creation is available. My best guess is that they were all made during the 1960s.
Photo 22: A photo of the Vergović mosaic at Alpha Bank. Credit: Max Beauchez
Photo 23: A photo of the Vergović mosaic at Post Office. Credit: Max Beauchez
Photo 24: A photo of the Vergović mosaic at Dunav Osiguranje. Credit: Max Beauchez
The "Partisan Monument of 1941" Mosaic: Located high on an upper wall of a residential building right in the city center of Užice, Serbia (at the northwest corner of Partisan/City Square) is a mosaic which depicts a design known as "The Partisan Monument of 1941" (Photo 25). The mosaic is composed of a Partisan fighter holding a Yugoslav flag as he gestures back towards his fellow fighters to charge forward, all framed by a star motif. This design was used for a medal of the same name awarded to Partisan fighters who were early joiners of the resistance movement in 1941 and survived all the way until the end of WWII. Over 27,000 of such medals were awarded by the Yugoslav government. This memorial mosaic was created by Serbian artist Marinko Benzon in 1961 on the 20th anniversary of the uprising. As can be seen in the photo, it has experienced some deterioration over time. With the noise of the bustling city and traffic below, this memorial work is often overlooked by passers-by. The exact coordinates for this mosaic monument are N43°51'21.7", E19°50'25.1".
Photo 25: The "Partisan Monument of 1941" mosaic
From the city center of Užice, take Highway 28 northwest out of the city towards Bajina Basta. Follow this road up into the mountains for about 15km. Be careful while travelling on this road, as it is very narrow and tight, with numerous sharp and hairpin turns. In addition, there are many heavy trucks on their road that making driving this road tricky as well. As you start to approach the top of the mountain pass (on which the spomenik is situated), you will see it prominently in the distance. Just before the summit, you will see a parking area for the monument complex in front of the visitor's center. Parking can easily be made here, from where you can walk to the spomenik. The exact coordinates for parking are N43°54'36.7", E19°44'28.9".
Click to open in Google Maps in new window
Selected Sources and More Information:
Please feel free to leave a message if you have any comments, if you have any questions, if you have corrections or if you have any additional information or insight you feel might be appropriate or pertinent to this spomenik's profile page.