Name: Monument to Boro Vukmirović and Ramiz Sadiku
Location: Landovicë (Landovica), Kosovo*
Year completed: 1963
Designer: Miodrag Pecić and Svetomir Basara
Coordinates: N42°15'17.5", E20°40'55.0" (click for map)
Dimensions: ~10m tall monolith
Materials used: Poured concrete and rebar
Condition: Destroyed and replaced with different monument
Click on slideshow photos for description
The monument that once existed at this location in the Kosovo* town of Landovicë or Landovica commemorated the two Partisan soldiers Boro Vukmirović and Ramiz Sadiku whose close friendship was a defining symbol for the idea of 'Brotherhood and Unity' during the Yugoslav-era.
World War II
As the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was invaded and occupied by Axis forces at the onset of WWII, two young men, Boro Vukmirović (an ethnic-Serb) and Ramiz Sadiku (an ethnic-Albanian) became close friends through working with the Communist Party of Yugoslavia and were both heavily involved in helping to organize the Partisan uprising against Italian occupation in Kosovo and Albania in early 1941. Vukmirović was heavily active in spreading the message of the resistance movement through the mediums of radio and newspaper, while Sadiku worked on publishing and distributing political pamphlets decrying Italian occupation and speaking out against it at rallies, for which he was arrested multiple times. Then, on April 7th of 1943, both Boro and Ramiz were in the Kosovo region traveling from Đakovica to Prizren when they were captured by Italian and Albanian occupation forces along the road just east of Landovica. After they were found out to be members of the Communist Party and Partisan fighters, they were tortured on the road there for several days to see if they would give up any information, but they did not. On April 10th, after the two young men had refused to give up information on their fellow rebel fighters, the Axis troops began to make preparations to execute them both separately. However, Boro and Ramiz refused to be separated, embracing each other tightly. They were then shot together as they both shouted their support for their resistance movement. At the end of the war, their story of friendship and unity became an instant Yugoslav legend and they were among the first to be posthumously granted the Order of the People's Hero award.
In the early 1960s, local government and veteran groups (along with support from the Yugoslav government) organized the construction of a spomenik complex in Landovica at the site where Boro and Ramiz were brutalized and executed. After a design competition to choose the creator, the commission for the project was awarded to the notable Yugoslav designers Miodrag Pecić and Svetomira Arsić Basara, with artistic design elements being created by artist Hilmija Ćatović. The monument was officially unveiled to the public on November 30th, 1963, an event which was attended by President Josip Tito and included a reading by Albanian poet Adem Gajtani of his now-famous work about the two friends, titled "Boro dhe Ramiz". The central element of the monument was a 10m tall obelisk made to be a highly stylized depicting of Boro and Ramiz embracing right before their execution. In front of this was a large mosaic created by Hilmija Ćatović depicting the scene of their execution.
Photo 1: Boro (left) & Ramiz (right), 1941
Photo 2: Ruins of Boro and Ramiz memorial in City Park of Priština, 2012
As the state of Yugoslavia began to disintegrate during the early 1990s, the spomenik complex here at Landovica began to be neglected and eventually fell into disrepair. After the end of the Kosovo War in 1999, the new ruling government of Kosovo made the decision to demolish the spomenik complex commemorating Boro and Ramiz and and built in its place a 'Martyr's Cemetery' (Varrezat e Dëshmorëve) for Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) soldiers who died during the March 1999 Battle of Jeshkovës. Interestingly, there was another small memorial celebrating Boro and Ramiz in the City Park of Priština, Kosovo (Photo 2), which originally consisted of two bronze-cast busts of the two friends positioned side by side. However, in 1999, part of the memorial was destroyed when the bust of Boro (the ethnic-Serb friend) was forcibly removed from its setting, leaving only the bust of Ramiz remaining. As of 2016, there have been some discussions in Priština about restoring the memorial. Meanwhile, the large sports complex in the center of Priština was originally named the 'Boro and Ramiz Sports Centre', but it 1999 it was renamed to the 'Palace of Youth and Sports' and decorated with a large picture of Adem Jashari, one of the founders of the KLA who fought for the separation of Kosovo* from Yugoslavia.
It is noteworthy to point out that during the trial of Slobodan Milošević at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the Hague in 2002, Milošević specifically brings up the Brotherhood & Unity monument at Landovica while questioning a Landovica resident, Halil Morina. Milošević used the destruction of monument and its replacement with a KLA cemetery as evidence that his military forces operating there during the Kosovo War were in that town entering into combat with KLA forces and not there to commit ethnic cleansing. Transcripts from the court proceedings can be found at the ICTY Archives [page 928]. Thanks to Oral History Kosovo for unearthing the detail about this court record.
No traces or remnants of the original Landovica 'Brotherhood & Unity' memorial sculpture (or its accompanying spomenik complex it was situated within) exist at this site any longer and no current signs or plaques at its former site indicate that it ever did exist at this spot -- every trace of the monument was removed during the construction of the KLA cemetery that was built at the location 1999. Since 2016, this KLA cemetery and memorial complex have gone under extensive expansion, with a large visitor's center currently under construction, while a new large abstract concrete monument has also recently been constructed. I have not been able to find many photos of the spomenik complex before its 1999 demolition, so if you have some photos of it, please contact me.
Plaques, Engravings and Graffiti:
While it is clear that there were a number of plaques, inscriptions and engravings at this site when it existed, I have found very little clear photographic documentation where one is able to clearly decipher what they once might have communicated. If you have any additional photos or documentation of this site or information on its plaques/engravings, please contact me. However, what is seen from the few photos that do remain is that the site was adorned with various wrought iron decorative elements that no doubt had significant symbolic meaning, some of which can be seen in Photo 3.
Also, certain sources recount that in original condition, the monument bore an inscription that was engraved directly onto its concrete facade. When translated into the English language, it is reported to have read:
Photo 3: Tito leaving wreath at Boro and Ramiz memorial
"[while] holding high their flag of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (KPJ) in combat against occupiers and domestic traitors for national and social liberation, for brotherhood and unity of our peoples, here, in April of 1943, national heroes Boro Vukmirović, [KPJ] secretary, and Ramiz Sadiku, member of the KPJ District Committee for Kosovo and Metohija, gave their lives."
Just to the left of the tall concrete obelisk standing over the memorial site's courtyard was a large mosaic mural, roughly 6m x 4m in size. Created by Montenegrin artist Hilmija Ćatović and composed in a monochromatic palette of black and white mosaic tiles, the work depicted a crowded scene of faces, with some thrusting their fists up into the air at the same time others hold up pitchforks and other rudimentary tools. Meanwhile, some of the faces appear dressed as peasants while others seem to be wearing Partisan caps. At the center of the scene is a grouping of three figures. A historical photo of this mosaic can be seen in Photo 4.
Photo 4: Historical image of the mosaic at the Boro & Ramiz monument at Landovica. [source]
The crowds of people shown in this mosaic are most likely meant to represent the popular uprising of local citizens and working class individuals (referenced at with the farming equipment) rising up against the oppression and fascist forces, which is a scene commonly depicted in Partisan art and memorial works. While the identity of the three figures at the center is less clear, it can be assumed that they most likely are representations of Boro and Ramiz (probably the two on the left) in their last embrace about to be killed by the third figure on the right, who appears to be bearing down on them in a threatening manner... all while the two faces on the left seem sad and mournful. However, this interpretation of the mosaic may be incorrect. If anyone reading this has deeper insight into the scene on display in this mosaic, please contact me. As was the fate for the rest of this monument, the mosaic seen in this photo was also destroyed in 1999. No remnants or pieices of it are currently known to have survived to the present day.
Records seem to indicate that the sculpture here at Landovica is that it depicts a heavily abstract and stylized representation of Boro and Ramiz holding each other before they were both executed by the Italian and Albanian military police. However, in the era of Yugoslavia, the ideals that this monument embodied went well beyond the strong friendship between these two young fighters. As much of WWII in the Balkans was driven and exacerbated by ethnic tensions and hatred, the concept of 'Brotherhood and Unity' became the most revered guiding principle of Yugoslav society. For this reason, the story of two young men, a Serb and an Albanian, becoming the best of friends and refusing the be torn apart upon their untimely execution evolved into one of the most evocative and visceral examples of that concept. This legendary status of Boro and Ramiz resulted in their monument here at Landovica acting as a supreme symbol for the Yugoslav government in communicating this central Yugoslav ideal to the people. The site was so nationally significant that a depiction of the sculpture was even used on a stamp as part of a series recognizing Yugoslavia's most important WWII monuments (Photo 5).
Photo 5: A stamp from 1983 depicting the monument at Landovica
As an example of the power the symbol Boro and Ramiz were in Yugoslavia, the poem about the two friends that Adem Gajtani wrote and recited at the unveiling on this spomenik in 1963, 'Boro dhe Ramiz', was often recited and memorized by young children in schools across the old nation of Yugoslavia. The following is a rough English translation of Gajtani's poem:
Boro and Ramiz
We are one sky, two leaves from the same branch, two little stones from the same water.
The clear Bistrica River, two bodies of same blood, pure clean blood of the Dukadjin Mnts.
Fingers from the same hand, together we are a bird
I am her right wing, you are her left.
My eyes, your eyelashes, your crinkle, my forehead, they speak of roads to the future, they speak of roads to freedom
They gunned us down, we fell from the same bullet, because, what am I without you, what is one wing without another wing.
Photo 6: New KLA monument, 2017
Status and Condition:
Not much can be said of the 'current condition' of this Boro & Ramiz memorial complex at Landovica, Kosovo*, as it no longer exists in any form. In 1999 it was demolished and replaced with the 'Martyr's Cemetery' (Varrezat e Dëshmorëve), a burial place where the remains of Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) soldiers are interred who died during the Battle of Jeshkovës. From what I have been able to determine, there are no residual traces, indications, signs or markers to indicate that this spomenik complex ever had existed at this spot -- and furthermore, nor are there any signs or markers pertaining whatsoever to the life or events of Boro and Ramiz. Currently, at this new KLA cemetery site, there is extensive construction underway to create a substantial museum/visitors complex, while, as of 2016, a very large new concrete abstract sculpture has already been built (Photo 6 - thanks to Susie Bee for the photos).
This destruction of Yugoslav-era spomenik complexes in Kosovo* is not an unprecedented proposal -- Kosovo's* government is currently planning to demolish the 'Partisan Martyr's Cemetery' memorial in Priština neighborhood of Velanija to build a monument to Kosovo's first president, Ibrahim Rugova. Meanwhile, the mayor of Priština, Shpend Ahmeti, has repeatedly advocated for the demolition of the 'Brotherhood & Unity' monument in one of the city's central squares.
Additional Sites in the Landovica area:
This section will explore various other notable Yugoslav-era historical, cultural and memorial sites in and around the greater Landovica area. Among those examples which are examined here are the ruins of the Motel Vllazrimi, the Monument to Brotherhood & Unity in Gjakova/Đakovića and the Monument to Fallen Fighters in Rahovec/Orahovac.
The ruins of Motel Vllazrimi:
Located just 250m north of the former site of the Boro & Ramiz monument on the outskirts of Landovica are the ruins of "Motel Vllazrimi" (often also written as "Motel Vllaznimi"). This complex was constructed in 1973 and was commissioned by the local hotel-employee organization "Dushanov Grad", who sought to bolster this area around Prizren with more touristic facilities as domestic and international travel to the area increased. The motel was designed by an architect team headed by Miodrag Pecić, who was returning to this area 10 years after working as the lead architect for the Boro & Ramiz monument project just next door. The motel's form is characterized by its long horizontal lines and eclectic arrangement of geometric boxy forms all crafted of raw concrete, giving the structure a decidedly "brutalist" architectural aesthetic and composition.
Photo 7: The ruins of Motel Vllazrimi in Landovica. Photo Credit: Stefano Perego
Photo 8: A vintage Yugoslav-era postcard view of Motel Vllazrimi in Landovica.
During the Yugoslav-era, this was a significant cultural landmark and was heavily featured in the Prizren region's advertising, postcards and promotional materials. Yet, as conflict spread across this region during the Kosovo War of the late 1990s, Motel Vllazrimi closed its doors, at which point it fell into a state of slow decay and currently sits in a state of total dereliction and abandonment. The structure is now completely gutted and none of its original interior elements remain, however, the strong study concrete it was built with continues to weather the destructive forces of time and vandalism. However, despite this dilapidated condition in which the Motel Vllazrimi continues to exist, in 2018 it was announced that the ruined structure was added to the list of protected objects of Kosovo's heritage. The exact coordinates for the hotel's ruins are 42°15'26.6"N, 20°40'52.3"E.
Monument to Brotherhood & Unity:
Located roughly 24km to the northwest of Landovica as the crow flies is the sizeable town of Gjakova or Đakovića, a large community in the southwest region of Kosovo* roughly 10km away from the Albanian border. During WWII, the people of this town were subjected to intense oppression and persecution by Axis forces, a reality that resulted in the deaths of many innocent civilians. After the end of the war, the remains of a partially constructed Orthodox church named "Cathedral of the Holy Trinity" in the town's center was demolished in 1949 by local authorities and, in its place, a memorial park was created and dedicated to those fallen victims and also to local Partisan leader and folk hero Emin Duraku. Two years later in 1951, a commemorative work named "Monument to Brotherhood and Unity" was unveiled at the center of this park (Photo 9).
Photo 9: An old postcard view of the Brotherhood & Unity Monument
Photo 10: View of 1999 church destruction
Created by famous Slovenian sculptor Lojze Dolinar, the work consisted of a series of three statues installed atop a tall polished stone pedestal. Dolinar's three statues depict rifle-toting Partisan fighters charging forward, with the center-most figure, brazenly barechested, thrusts his right arm into the air clutching onto what appears to be his Partisan cap. This monument stood at the center of the town until the regional conflict of the Kosovo War affected this region during the late 1990s, at which point it was destroyed. Unfortunately, I was not able to find any sources which related the specific circumstances surrounding its removal nor was I able to determine the ultimate fate of these statues. What does not seem to be clear is what actions resulted in the monument's dismantling or destruction. One cause may have been the 1998 reconstruction of the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity at its original site (as Dolinar's monument sat on or near this site of the original cathedral), while the second cause may have been the monument being caught up in the cathedral's violent destruction the following year on July 24th, 1999 by a huge amount of explosives (Photo 10). However, the monument's dismantling may have been the result of some other event or circumstances entirely, but little info is available to tell with any confidence. Either way, no traces of the monument or its pedestal presently exist within the park, as the park was totally wiped clean in 2004 of the ruins from the cathedral's destruction.
Of Dolinar's four major memorial works during the Yugoslav era (which, in addition to this one, include sites at Kraljevo, Kranj and Prijepolje), this was the only one destroyed. Finally, I found no sources indicating that any local efforts are currently aimed at restoring or rehabilitating this monument site. The exact coordinates for the site in which this monument formerly stood are 42°23'03.1"N, 20°25'47.3"E.
Monument to Fallen Fighters:
Located roughly 15km to the north of Landovica as the crow flies is the modest Kosovo* town of Rahovec or Orahovac. In 1974, a monument dedicated to the local fighters and civilian victims who perished during WWII was erected within a park in the center of the community. Created by sculptor Skender Asimi, the monument consisted of ascending rows of bare concrete pillars arranged in a radiating pattern situated in the middle of an elevated courtyard (Photo 11). Plaques attached to the monument listed the names of fallen fighters and victims.
This monument stood as a central landmark for the local community until it was removed at some point in the late 2000s or early 2010s. In 2016, the site of Asimi's former monument was replaced with two statues of KLA fighters Xhelal Hajda Toni and Selajdin Mullabazi Mici. The exact coordinates for this site are 42°23'49.5"N, 20°39'08.1"E.
Photo 11: An old vintage image of the Monument to Fallen Fighters [left] and the 2016 monument to KLA fighters that replaced it. [source]
As the Boro & Ramiz monument no longer exists, all that can be visited is the former site where it once stood. From the city center of Prizren, head northwest out of town on Highway 17, as if you were heading to Dakovica. After just 2 or 3km once you get out of town, you will pass around a traffic circle. Pass by the first right that takes you to the E851 motorway and continue on Highway 17 with the second right on the traffic circle. After just a few hundred meters, you will see a large graveyard on your left (to the west), dominated by a large white spiral sculpture. This was the site of the original spomenik here at Landovica. You will not find any remains of it anywhere. The structure and grounds that exist here now are a KLA Martyr's cemetery and memorial complex.
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All mentions of the designation "Kosovo" on this page are made without prejudice to the position on status, and is in line with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and the International Court of Justice's Opinion of the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.
Selected Sources and More Information:
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