Name: Šumarice Memorial Park (aka: Memorial Park October in Kragujevac/Спомен-парк Крагујевачки октобар)
Location: Kragujevac, Serbia
Year completed: 1963
Designer: Miodrag Živković (profile page) among other artists & architects
Coordinates: N44°00'57.8", E20°53'09.1" (click for map)
Dimensions: ~8m tall and 16m wide
Materials used: Poured white concrete and rebar
Condition: Very good, well maintained
Click on slideshow photos for description
This memorial sculpture located in Kragujevac, Serbia at the Šumarice Memorial Park, officially titled 'Monument to Executed Students' (aka: 'Interrupted Flight'), is dedicated to the hundreds of children murdered here by German soldiers on October 21st, 1941.
World War II
A few months into the onset of WWII, on September 16th, 1941, German Wehrmacht Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel issued a directive aimed at Eastern Europe authorizing retaliatory killings against civilians for any deaths of German soldiers caused by Partisan resistance fighters. The directive went on to state that for every one German soldier slain, up to 100 reprisal executions of civilians should be carried out. Subsequently, roughly two weeks later on September 28th, a group of Partisans resistance fighters launched an attack on a group of German soldiers of the 920th Landesschützen Battalion who were stationed at a schoolhouse near Gornji Milanovac, less than 40km west of Kragujevac. During this skirmish, ten German soldiers were killed.
Enraged by these Partisan killings of German soldiers at Gornji Milanovac (and concerned about the potential of an uncontrolable uprising), Wehrmacht commander of Serbia Franz Böhme immediately ordered the arrest of thousands of male civilians across Kragujevac and the surrounding region in retaliation. Those targeted for arrest were fighting-age males, predominately Jews, accused communists and any anti-fascist rebels or sympathizers. Included among those arrested were even students, monks and priests, thought those with useful or essential trade skills were said to be spared. On October 20th, four days after the original killings of the German soldiers, Böhme authorized the reprisal executions of these arrested men and youth. The majority of these executions were carried out on the morning of October 21st, 1941 at the Central Serbian Cemetery at Šumarice, just west of the Kragujevac town center. The executions took place over the course of roughly 7 hours, as group after group of 50 to 100 people lined up in front of long dirt pits to be shot. The most commonly referenced estimate is that roughly 2,300 people were massacred here (though some estimates range much higher), with the bodies spread across more than 30 mass graves (Photo 1). Around 140 to 300 of those killed here were young school boys (aged 12-15) who were slain along with their teachers. Strangely, a military parade was conducted through the Kragujevac town center after the executions were completed. Five days after the massacre, the German soldiers selected 200 townspeople to bury the bodies, which took several days. Böhme explicitly prohibited anyone in town from marking or commemorating the grave sites.
Photo 1: Executed civilians lying in open dirt pit at Šumarice, October, 1941
Photo 2: Franz Böhme
After the war, Böhme (Photo 2) was captured attempting to flee to Norway. He was charged on May 10th, 1947 and was put on trial at Nuremberg, with the primary crime charged against him being the massacre at Kragujevac. However, he committed suicide in prison by jumping out of the 4th story window of the prison in which he was being held before being formally sentenced.
Initial planning for the Šumarice massacre site to be turned into a 340 hectare memorial park began in Belgrade in 1953. The planning Committee for the park, comprised of Yugoslav government officials, representatives from the city of Kragujevac among others, felt it was their task to use this project to create a new type of war memorial: one whose commemorative focus is the park green-space just as much as it is the monuments themselves within the park. However, the central debate within the initial conceptual planning session for the park was whether it should be a park with monuments in it or whether it should be simply a park as the monument itself. One of the ideas that was agreed upon by the Committee was that "the starting point for designers should not be one holistic architectural or sculptural monument, but that the entire area should be designed as a memorial park that will present the big tragedy that took place in Kragujevac in 1941."
In late 1953, a public announcement was put out welcoming the submissions of potential proposals for the memorial park. Included in this notice was language that stated:
"This memorial park should not be a cemetery, even a modern one, nor should it be a monument for victims or to misdeeds of fascism, but primarily it should be a monument to the heroism and revolutionary of the working class... this memorial park should be unique among its kind. As such, it will give strength and inspire."
The winner of the design competition was a proposal submitted by landscape architect Smiljan Klaić, along with his architect partners Mihajlo Mitrović, Radivoje Tomić. The characteristic of their plan was a contoured landscape integrating both forests and grassy fields, where the memorial elements coalesce and fuse into the natural setting. As a result, the park itself becomes the memorial. Construction of the park began in 1955. By the later 1950s, it had largely taken shape, while a number of monument were well under construction. The park's name was designated as 'Šumarice', a name which derives from the Serbo-Croatian word 'šuma' meaning 'forest'. The first completed monument, entitled 'Pain & Defiance', was officially unveiled to the public on October 21st, 1959 and was created by Ante Gržetić. Over the next several decades, until the unrest of the 1990s, a series of over a dozen memorial sculptures of various size and scale were constructed across the park.
Photo 3: Živković's rejected 1960 design proposal for the Kamenska monument
Photo 4: The 'Interrupted Flight' monument under construction in 1962
However, of all the memorials built here at Šumarice, one above all others has become the de facto symbol of the memorial park. This monument, entitled 'Monument to Executed Pupils and Teachers' (but is commonly referred to as 'Interrupted Flight'), is dedicated to the hundreds of students and teachers massacred at this spot in 1941 during the height of the massacre. The design competition to create this monument was tendered in 1961, with first prize going to Serbian designer Miodrag Živković. The design which Živković employed for this monument was actually a modified adaption of an unrealized design proposal he had used the year before during the competition for the monument at Kamenska (Photo 3). The construction of the project, which Živković oversaw in cooperation with architect Đorđe Zloković, lasted roughly 2 years (Photo 4), being finally completed and officially opened to the public on October 21st, 1963 during a large commemorative ceremony. The monument was situated directly on the site of the mass grave where the remains of the executed school children are interred. The sculpture is comprised of two large white concrete monoliths emanating from the ground forming a sharp 'v' shape. On the faces of the sculpture can be seen faint impressions which represent the children and teachers who were executed at the site.
In a 2018 interview Spomenik Database conducted with Živković, he explained the unique construction process with which the "Interrupted Flight" monument was constructed. Firstly, Živković created in the spot the monument was to be built a full size plaster version of the sculpture. At this point, wooden forms were built tightly around this plaster sculpture. After this, the plaster was chipped away and removed with the emptied forms then being filled with concrete which left Živković with the final sculptural product.
The massacre at Kragujevac was one of the most defining tragedies of the WWII era in Yugoslavia which acted, more than just about any other single event, as a moment that characterized the brutality that was inflicted upon civilians by foreign occupational forces during that time period. The Šumarice Memorial Park being official set up just a mere eight years after the end of WWII speaks to the importance the Yugoslav government saw in commemorating this horrific event. During the Yugoslav era, the park became one of the most visited and patronized memorial areas in the country. A poem written about the massacre, 'A Bloody Fairytale' ('Krvava Bajka'), by famed Serbian writer Desanka Maksimović became essential literary curriculum in Yugoslav secondary schools, with each school child meant to be able to learn to recite it word for word by heart. Furthermore, the event was so integral to society that two separate films were made about the events.
Photo 5: 'Prozvan je i V-3' film poster, 1962
Photo 6: 'Krvava bajka' film poster, 1969
The first was a 1962 film called 'Prozvan je i V3' directed by Milenko Štrpce (Photo 5). The film's title roughly translates into English as "Roll Call for Class V3", with "V3" being the designation for the class of students (5th grade, 3rd form) who were killed at the site of the monument. This film depicts the events of the massacre with the protagonist being one of the young executed grammar school children. The second was a 1969 film called 'Krvava bajka' (A Bloody Fairytale) (Photo 6), named after the Maksimović poem, and was directed by Branimir Janković. The events of the massacre in this film are examined from the perspective of a group of young street shoe cleaners who ban together during the occupation of the town.
Photo 7: A 2015 ceremony at the 'Interrupted Flight' monument
The 'Interrupted Flight' monument has come to be not only a symbol for the memorial park, but also for the city of Kragujevac. This whole spomenik park has remained a popular and well honored monument throughout the decades, with tens of thousands visiting each year and various annual commemorative celebrations behind held to recognize the tragedies which occurred here. Naturally, the most notable event which occurs at this site annually is the commemoration of the October 21st executions, which have happened uninterrupted since the park's opening (Photo 7). This spomenik park has not seen the level of neglect and vandalism other People's Liberation Struggle (WWII) monuments across the former-Yugoslavia have seen. All indications point to this memorial complex continuing to be a hugely popular and regularly honored site.
"This is the burial place of the students and teachers who were shot on the 21st of October, 1941."
Meanwhile, nearby to this stone, there is an additional engraved stone (Slide 2) set within the monument's landscaping, whose inscription reads, translated from Serbian to English, as:
"Shoot me too, I still present my lesson."
Plaques, Engravings and Graffiti:
Just a few meters west along the paved trail of the 'Interrupted Flight' spomenik, there is a small engraved stone set into the side of the path amongst the bushes (Slide 1). It translates from Serbian to English as:
This inscription is alluding to the story that when the school children killed here were about to be executed, the principle of the school, Miloje Pavlović, who the German Wehrmacht had given permission to leave, refused to step aside, telling the Germans that if the children died, then they would die along side them.
Photo 8: Desanka Maksimović
In addition, there is a small marble plaque set right into the base of the landscaping of the monument (Slide 3). It is extremely faded, and almost impossible to read at this point, but what is legible makes it clear that this plaque is simply referencing the people whom maintain and manicure the landscaping at this memorial.
Finally, also set into the ground around the periphery of the landscaping here are several rough stone with seemingly random engravings made it them (Slides 4 - 6). These inscriptions are a mix of school symbols, math equations and children's names, all which bear testimony to the youth and innocence of those who were killed at this site.
Finally, one last engraved element that exists at Živković memorial is a stone (Slides 7 & 8) bearing an inscription of the poem 'A Bloody Fairytale' ('Krvava Bajka'), by famed Serbian writer Desanka Maksimović (Photo 8). The stone is situated among the bushes next to the monument. This inscription roughly translates from Serbian into English as:
"They were all born the same year, they all went to school on the same days, they all attended the same ceremonies, they were all vaccinated for the same diseases, and together they all died on the same day."
This poem, which is one of the most famous poems in Serbia, was written by Maksimović during the war about the 1941 massacre of the school children and was published in the 1946 book 'Pesnik i zavičaj' ('The Poet and His Native Land'). It is often stated that during the Yugoslav era, knowing this poem was part of every child's curriculum at school. In years past this stone had been allowed to be completely overgrown by the bushes it is situated around, leaving it nearly completely obscured and covered. However, as of 2018, the bushes around it have been cut back and it is now visible again.
One way to understand the 'Interrupted Flight' monument is as a highly stylized vision of a delicate hopeful white bird struggling in flight just as it takes off from the ground, but faltering due to a broken wing (represented in the sculpture by the triangular shape protruding from one of the wings). This imagery symbolizes the lost innocence of youth by the eager hopeful children who were tragically cut down by senseless violence before they could truly take "flight" as young people. Meanwhile, within the 'wings' of the sculpture, faint suspended impressions of those children who were slain here can be seen staring out, almost as if they were bidding us farewell as they float up into the heavens (Photo 9). Through these achingly desperate forms reaching out from inside the monument, the "figurative becomes abstract", as the realistic forms melt back into the ether that is the modernist shape of the structure. Such a depiction not only illustrates the senselessness of the children's execution (along with their ultimate redemption), but it further represents a transition in the greater shift in Yugoslav sculpture at the time from figurative work towards the purely abstract.
Photo 9: A close up view of figures on the monument
Another facet behind the symbolism of the "V" shape of the monument is it operating as a reference to the name of the Kragujevac Gymnasium school class who was massacred at this site, which was "V3" class (5th grade, 3rd form).
This monument is not only an important and honored symbol in Kragujevac, as it stands as one of the pivotal symbols for the city, but it also serves as a important commemorative cultural symbol across all of Serbia.
In addition to the 'Interrupted Flight' spomenik, which is unquestionably the centerpiece of Šumarice Memorial Park, there are also roughly eleven other additional monument elements scattered across the park which commemorate various other aspects of the tragedies and atrocities which happened here at Kragujevac in 1941. The ones of these which I personally consider to be the most culturally notable, impressively abstract and artistically significant memorial sculptures will be briefly detailed below and are referenced in the map section by their respective photo numbers:
Slideshow: 'Circles' by Vojin Bakić
1.) "Circles" by Vojin Bakić:
This monument, built in 1981 by Vojin Bakić, is a series of five massive interconnected steel discs meant to stand as a memorial marker to several mass graves that exist around this hillside. It was constructed as a gift to Kragujevac from the government of SR of Croatia. A concept model of the monument can be seen in Photo 10. As circles are generally symbols of perfection and harmony, Bakić therefore decided to warp and distort the circles, intending to display to the viewer a symbolic representation of the horrors which occurred here. Overall, this monument is in good shape, but is showing signs of deterioration. The location of this monument can be seen in the map section below marked by reference Number 1. Exact coordinates are: N44°01'37.4", E20°53'36.5".
At various locations around the 'Circles' monument, there are five roughly hewn stones bearing engraved inscriptions (Slides 10 - 14). These inscriptions are selected verses from a 1976 poem entitled 'Open Poem' by Croatian writer Jure Kaštelan. One of these engraved stones is placed at the entrance to this memorial (Slide 10), while the other four (Slides 11 - 14) are located next to mass burial sites left behind after the executions which happened at this site during WWII. Each of the four sites is outlined by stone-laid rectangles -- one of these burial sites can be seen in Slide 9 in the above Slideshow. It is interesting to note that the layout of the landscaping around this monument was done by Josip Seissel, who worked with Bakić on other monument projects, including those at Dotršćina and Kamenska. The inscriptions on these stones read, when translated from Croatian to English, as:
Slide 10: "People of Croatia, to Kragujevac"
Slide 12: "The secret of the circle, of eternal births, the tree with many branches of light."
Slide 13: "Šumarice was made of light and the nest of songs was made of screams."
Slide 14: "How could you even start (the day) so that your sun never sets, that you last until now?"
Photo 10: A concept model by Vojin Bakić of his 'Circles' monument
In recent years this sculpture has been constantly been the victim of graffiti and vandalism. Even after the park works to clean one set of graffiti off, it soon is vandalized again, possibly by the same perpetrators (as it is always the same style of red spray paint). As of my latest visit to the site in the spring of 2018 it as again been defaced.
Slideshow: 'Monument to the Resistance' by Ante Gržetić
2.) 'Monument to the Resistance and Freedom' by Ante Gržetić:
This monument, built in 1963 by Ante Gržetić, is a concrete obelisk, roughly 12m tall, which stands as a marker for a set of mass graves from the October 1941 massacre. The two points atop the obelisk can be interpreted to be the Latin letter 'V', which stands as a symbol for Partisan victory over fascism. In addition, next to the obelisk is a bronze abstract sculpture of a mortally wounded figure, shot in violence, writhing in their last agonizing moments, representing the suffering endured by those who were killed here. The location of this monument can be seen in the map section below marked by reference Number 2. Exact coordinates are: N44°01'31.8" E20°54'00.7".
There are a number of rough stones with engraved inscriptions at this site. Unfortunately, two of them (Slides 10 & 11), are so degraded and deteriorated by weathering and moss/lichen growth, that they have reached a point of no longer being legible. However, there is another engraved stone right by the stairs leading up to this monument (Slides 12 & 13) which is still readable. It contains a poetic stanza by writer Jovan Popović (Јован Поповић). The inscription reads, when translated from Serbian to English, as:
"We will have what you have, the flame which conveys new change. We are not silent, not now, and we will have our say for all time."
Finally, there is a small engraved marble plaque (Slide 14) which simply relates historic details about the maintenance and landscaping of the grounds of this memorial site.
Photo 11: A close-up of the statue by Ante Gržetić
Photo 12: The Dying Gaul, a Hellenistic era sculpture
An interesting note to point out is that Ante Gržetić's lamenting sculpture at the base of the monument (Photo 11) bears an uncanny resemblance to a Roman copy of the Hellenistic-era sculpture of the Dying Gaul (Photo 12), which is originally thought to have been created around 230BC. The Dying Gaul sculpture was an work that symbolized the subjugation and genocide against the Galatians (the Celtic or Gaulish people) by the Greek powers and later by the Roman Empire as well (which explains their copying of the sculpture). This ancient sculpture, which has inspired many works of sculpture in the modern era, may have acted as an inspiration for Gržetić in the creation of this monument as it speak of a subjugated people who endured much suffering at the hands of a greater power, similar to the suffering experienced by the civilians of Kragujevac who were executed by German forces at this spot during WWII. In addition, this reference to a fallen Celtic warrior may also be symbolic of the ancient Celts who once inhabited this region of Serbia, but were driven out by the Romans in the mid-2nd century AD.
Slideshow: 'Hundred for One' by Nandor Glid
3.) 'Hundred For One' by Nandor Glid:
This memorial sculpture, built in 1980 by Serbian Jewish designer Nandor Glid, is a bronze figurative work, roughly 5m in height, depicting contorted and interlaced agonizing bodies, all resting on a concrete base. As the bodies rise up, they begin to resemble that of a tree, symbolizing both the natural beauty where this tragic event occurred and also the strength of the Serbian people. Furthermore, the name of this particular spomenik complex, "Hundred For One", alludes to the order German commander Franz Böhme carried out where 100 civilians were killed for every 1 killed German soldier. The location of this monument can be seen in the map section below marked by reference Number 3. Exact coordinates are: N44°01'21.4", E20°52'29.2".
As of 2017, this sculpture is exhibiting severe damage and deterioration from lack of preservation and maintenance. There are numerous cracks and fissures in the bronze around the base of the sculpture (Slides 6 - 8) which do not appear to have been addressed by maintenance officials in any meaningful way. This damage seems significant enough to potentially compromise the entire structure of the monument.
Meanwhile, along the stone paved pathway that leads from the main road's parking to this memorial sculpture, there is a small engraved stone placed in the grass in the center of a circular courtyard (Slides 9 & 10). It bears a poetic stanza from the Serbian poet Đorđe Radišić (Ђорђе Радишић). The inscription on this stone reads, when translated from Serbian to English, as:
"Freedom! Here, 100 were shot for one, and for your arrival, they paved the path with their hearts."
Monument author: Nandor Glid, with assistant
October 21st, 1980
Monument construction made possible by the workers and citizens of the Modrica municipality, Socialist Republic of Bosnia & Herzegovina
Slideshow: 'Crystal Flower' by Nebojša Delja
4.) 'Crystal Flower' by Nebojša Delja:
This monument, built in 1968 by Serbian designer Nebojša Delja, is a large concrete sculpture (about 7m wide), which depicts a stylized blossoming flower, split in two. The memorial is dedicated to a young 15 year old Roma boy who was shot with a group of other adults who are all buried at this location in a mass grave. The blossoming flower is meant to represent the innocence and purity of youth, while the flower being split symbolizes a life stolen before its time. The condition of this monument is poor, as its concrete is chipping away in several location, while also being covered in graffiti. The location of this monument can be seen in the map section below marked by reference Number 4. Exact coordinates are: N44°01'01.9", E20°52'57.2".
Meanwhile, along the stone paved pathway that leads from the main road's parking to this memorial sculpture, there is a small engraved roughly hewn stone placed in the grass to the left side of the pathway (Slides 9 & 10). Unfortunately, weathering, along with lichen/moss growth, has currently made the inscription on this stone nearly unreadable. However, through investigating a few key words which were still able to be deciphered, I was able to determine this inscription is of the very last stanza of the poem "Kinderen met Krekelstem" (Children with Cricket Voices) by Belgian/Flemish poet Karel Jonckheere. I was then able to discover that the engraved inscription here reads, when translated from Serbian to English, as:
"What I hear tonight, coming from the gleaming grass, my lips cannot utter: children with voices like crickets became crickets with voices of children"
For anyone interested in seeing the text of the whole original poem, it can be found in this article [PDF] in its original Dutch. Also, within that linked article, Jonckheere describes how he came up with the inspiration for this poem when traveling to the Kragujevac memorial site with with novelist Miodrag Bulatović (Миодраг Булатовић) and the poet Ivan Lalić (Иван Лалић). Within the article, Jonckheere describes:
"I have too much respect for this tragedy to use it for literature, too much sympathy for poetry to expect the impossible of it. On our way there, when we were driving through some villages, we were waved at and greeted by playing children. When we closed the windows again, it was just like the children's voices in the distance became cricket sounds. In the grass on the huge meadow where the boys of the lyceum lost their lives in a foolish-criminal way, real crickets were chirping. They enabled my poem."
Slideshow: 'Monument of Pain & Defiance' by Ante Gržetić
5.) 'Pain & Defiance' by Ante Gržetić:
This monument, built in 1959 by Ante Gržetić and named "Pain & Defiance", was the very first memorial sculpture built at Šumarice and depicts two stylized human forms (a man and a woman), sculpted in marble, with the man contorted in pain while the woman writhes with her back violently arched, still defying death. The monument is dedicated to the only woman killed during the massacre at Kragujevac, Nada Naumović, a young student activist who worked supporting Partisan battle groups. On December 20th, 1951 she was recognized as a national hero of Yugoslavia. The location of this monument can be seen in the map section below marked by reference Number 5. Exact coordinates are: N44°01'02.4", E20°53'31.2".
Standing in front of this sculpture, looking to the right you will see two plaques set into the ground (Slide 5). The nearest plaque to the monument (Slide 6) is a small bronze plate attached to a granite slab which bears an inscription along with a likeness of Priest Andreja Božić (Андреја Божић). There is no date for the installation of this plaque, but as it does not seem highly weathered, and is also of an explicitly religious nature, it may have been placed more recently. The inscription on this plaque reads, when translated from Serbian to English, as:
"If my life is in your hands, then I don't need it."
-Priest Andreja Božić
On Tuesday, October 21st, 1941, on this very spot, were shot the first group of citizens from Kragujevac brought from [Dimitrije] Ljotić's prison, which was in the school "King Petar I". In this group was shot Priest Andreja Božić from Badnjevac. The executioner was Marisav Petrović.
Meanwhile, there is also an small engraved marble slab installed into the ground near the monument (Slide 7) dedicated to the student activist Nada Naumović. The inscription on the stone reads, when translated from Serbian to English, as:
"On these mild hillsides that she loved so much, young student Nada Naumović, member of the Communist Party, fell along with 250 Kragujevac workers. The Communist Party & working class were in their thoughts."
Slideshow: 'Stone Sleeper' by Gradimir & Jelica Bosnić
6.) 'Stone Sleeper' by Gradimir & Jelica Bosnic:
The "Stone Sleeper" (Камени Спавач) monument, built in 1970 by Gradimir & Jelica Bosnić, is dedicated to all the people executed here who were from the outlying towns and villages around Kragujevac, who had previously been unmemorialized. The complex itself is a terraced courtyard surrounded by short concrete pylons, dominated by large wreath-like white marble sculptures (Slides 1 - 8). This memorial's design is symbolic of and a tribute to the area's rural-lands (where these victims came from), representing farmlands, haystacks and tree-lines. The location of this monument can be seen in the map section below marked by reference Number 6. Exact coordinates are: N44°01'38.4", E20°52'57.7".
Upon my most recent visit to this site in the spring of 2017, steady efforts were being made to restore and rehabilitate this memorial, as can be seen in the photos in the above slideshow. In previous years, many elements of this monument had begun to deteriorate and degrade. Not only are all the concrete pylons being restored, but all of the white marble 'sleeper' stones also now appear vibrant and nearly brand new, having gone through an extreme cleaning process with the addition protective exterior liquid coating.
As you enter the "Stone Sleeper" spomenik complex, one of the first things you will see is a cylindrical 2m tall engraved white marble stone on your left (Slides 9 & 10). Unfortunately, with the stone being so clean and vibrant now, the inscription is very hard to read on the white marble, but under scrutiny, the inscription can be made out to be the last stanza from Bosnian writer Mak Dizdar's poem "Brotnjice" in his book of poems "Stone Sleeper", published in 1966, which obviously is the inspiration for the named of this memorial. A link to the whole set of poems from the book, in Croatian, can be found HERE [PDF]. The inscription here reads, when translated from Serbian to English, as:
"Stone Sleeper, I told you everything I knew about it, but if you want to know more, go and ask the birds."
While the inscribed text in Slides 9 & 10 appear hard to read in the white stone, this is because they were taken during the site's restoration process. Since these photos were taking in 2018, the text has been highlighted in black paint and are more legible.
Museum October 21st:
At the entrance to Šumarice Memorial Park there is a museum facility, opened on October 21st, 1976, called "Museum October 21st" which houses documents, relics/artifacts, a library and artwork related to the Kragujevac Masscare. It was built over the course of five years by Ivan Antić and Ivanka Raspopović, and consists of thirty-three brick square columns of varying heights (4m to 21m), which are meant to represent the thirty-three mass graves in the area where victims were buried. At the time it was built, the exhibits inside the museum employed state-of-the-art audio-visual technology to tell the story of the tragedy in the most interactive way possible. It is still considered one of the most modern museums in Serbia. Exact coordinates are: N44°01'16.7", E20°53'39.5".
Slideshow: Museum "21 October" at Šumarice Memorial Park
Status and Condition:
The condition of the grounds and the elements of the Šumarice Memorial Park in Kragujevac are very good. Firstly, the grounds and landscaping around most of the memorial elements within the park are, for the most part, very well maintained and manicured. As for the condition of individual memorial elements themselves, some are certainly in better condition than others, but in general, most of the works are in fair to good condition, with only a one or two showing any significant signs of degradation. Meanwhile, there is excellent promotional and directional signage around the city and the complex leading visitors and tourists to all of the various monuments found here. In addition, the official website of Kragujevac even promotes the Šumarice spomenik complex as a point of interest and a significant tourist attraction. While there have been some issues of vandalism over the years (for instance, the extinguishing of the eternal flame memorial in front of the museum in recent years), for the most part the site is extremely well visited, honored and respected by people all over Serbia and all over Europe, drawing in tens of thousands of people a year.
Photo 13: A remembrance event at Šumarice Memorial Park, 2016
A massive annual commemorative event takes place at Šumarice every October 21st (which is also a Serbian National holiday) (Photo 13). The specific memorial event which occurs at the "Interrupted Flight" monument is a special ceremony called "Veliki školski čas" (The Great School Class). The first such ceremony to these victims was held in 1944, and they have continued regularly every year since. They began being held around the site of the monument when it was unveiled in 1963 (Photo 14). In the last few decades up until the present, crowds of over 50,000 people have been recorded attending these events. These ceremonies are regularly attended by high ranking Serbian officials, diplomats, politicians and ambassadors, with the events being televised across Serbia. In 1979 the memorial complex was declared by the Serbian government to be a protected site of immovable cultural heritage and of great national importance. In 1991 Serbian Orthodox priests from the Diocese of Šumadija began to take part in the events at this site. For several decades now up until the present day, "The Great School Class" ceremony has been televised live on Serbian national television, which is routinely watched by over 1 million people.
Photo 14: A remembrance event at Šumarice Memorial Park, 1970s [source]
Click to open in Google Maps in new window
From the city center of Kragujevac, take Kralja Alexandra (Краља Александра) road northwest. Follow this road for roughly half a kilometer until you go across Hwy 25 (Bulevar Kraljice Marije), at which point continue on straight and the road name will change into Kragujevackog Oktobra as you pass by Veliki Park. Continue down this road another half a kilometer and you will see the park's Memorial Museum in front of you (Google Streetview shot here). At the museum, the road will take a sharp left, and the road name changes again to Desankin Venac road. Follow this past a large parking lot, and after about another half kilometer, you will see the 'Interrupted Flight' spomenik on your left (Google StreetView shot here). Parking can be made on the right just before the monument. The exact coordinates for parking are N44°00'59.9", E20°53'12.5". The numbers on the map refer to the locations of the additional monuments listed above.
Selected Sources and More Information:
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