Name: Monument to the Revolution (Spomenik revolucije)
Location: Republic Square (formerly Revolution Square) in Ljubljana, Slovenia
Year completed: 1975
Designer: Sculptor Drago Tršar & architect Vladimir Braco Mušič
Coordinates: N46°03'03.8", E14°29'59.9"
Dimensions: 11m tall and 17m wide
Materials used: Stone block base and cast bronze sculpture
Condition: Fair to good
The "Monument to the Revolution" here in Republic Square in Ljubljana, Slovenia is a memorial work which commemorates the WWII victory of the Yugoslavia Partisans, as well as honoring the Socialist Revolution that defeated the occupying and oppressive fascist forces who had divided up Slovenia.
World War II
The emerging conflicts of WWII arrived in Ljubljana when Axis forces invaded Slovenia on April 6th, 1941. At this point, Slovenia was cut up and partitioned between three neighboring Axis countries: Germany, Italy and Hungary. The area of the city of Ljubljana fell within the region annexed by Italy, but sat right on the border of German annexed Slovenia. Italian forces subsequently marched freely into Ljubljana on April 11th, 1941. Italian occupation of the city was harsh and oppressive, which included forced Italianization and heavy-handed military control upon the city (including controlled movement, executions, concentration camps).
In addition, academic researcher Peter Mikša also notes that the Italian occupiers "wanted to erase the idea of Yugoslav connectedness, primarily by renaming the streets, introducing Italian holidays, [and] tearing down monuments that would remind people of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia." However, a surprising amount of autonomy was also granted by the Italian occupiers, as the Italians fully anticipated that the Slovenes would be very cooperative and accommodating to their takeover. However, despite these accommodations, the people of Ljubljana were not so welcoming as the Italians expected.
Photo 1: A 1942 photo Ljubljana barbwire fence
Photo 2: A 1942 map of the barbwire fence surrounding Ljubljana
Photo 3: A photo of civilians being arrested in the Italian Army's 1942 raids in Ljubljana
Resistance by the Partisans increased through 1942, which resulted in the Italians (along with their anti-communist Slovene collaborators) beginning a violent push-back in the summer of that year. As part of the plan to defend against Partisan incursions and to prevent collaboration between Liberation Front resistance forces in the city and Partisan units in the countryside, the Italian Army built a 30km barbed-wire fence and defensive perimeter were built to surround the entire city (Photos 1 & 2), which was even topped off with bunkers and gun nests. This made Ljubljana the only European capital city during WWII completely enclosed by fortifications. After the construction of the fence, Italian forces conducted a series of raids between June 24th and July 1st, 1942 in order to root out any Partisan resistance in the city. During the raids, nearly 3,000 people were arrested under suspicion of being Partisan collaborators (Photo 3). Most were either executed or sent to concentration camps. Through, the summer of 1942 onward, many skirmishes with the Partisans occurred around the Ljubljana region during the Italians 1942 summer offensive, which subsequently led to many civilians being executed by the Italian forces as reprisal. Partisans would often then carry out their own reprisals against those reprisals by executing Slovenes who had collaborated with the Italians.
The Italian's 1942 offensive left the Partisans around Ljubljana extremely weakened, however, things changed in the Partisan's favor as Italian power weakened through 1943 and was ultimately removed entirely as the Italian Army capitulated in September of 1943 with the Armistice of Cassibile. The sudden absence of Italian occupation in Ljubljana quickly resulted in the long-trapped resistance elements within the city finally being able to join up with the Slovene Partisans. However, German Army forces quickly swept in to replace the Italians as the city's new occupational force. The oppression of local citizens of Ljubljana by Nazi troops, under the command of SS-general Erwin Rösener and Friedrich Rainer, was brutal and oppressive, much more so than Italian occupation had been. Any and all resistance was swiftly and violently punished. Meanwhile, the German force's tight control of the city and tight enforcement of the city's barbwire containment fence led to almost ghetto-like conditions, with shortages of supplies and food leading to significant deaths from disease and staving across Ljubljana. In addition, through 1944, the city was also subject to bombing attacks by Allied planes which were attempting to strike strategic German Army positions. By the spring of 1945, weakened German forces began to retreat north out of Slovenia. On May 8th, the last of the German soldiers had left Ljubljana and the city was liberated by Partisan forces the following day on May 9th, 1945 (Photo 4).
Photo 4: Street celebrations during Partisan liberation of Ljubljana, May, 1945
During the course of the war, thousands of civilians in Ljubljana were killed or perished. Furthermore, the people of the city endured unimaginable hardships and violence while trapped within the defensive barbwire ring around the city for a staggering 1,171 days. In the months after the war, there were numerous incidents of extrajudicial reprisal killings by Partisans of Slovenes who had collaborated with the Axis forces, most notably at Kočevski Rog (~50km SE of Ljubljana). Many of these collaborators died in Ljubljana while in transit to Kočevski Rog and were subsequently buried in mass graves at a cemetery just outside the city at Šentvid, a place which had prior been used as an execution spot by German forces during the war.
A motion was passed by the Executive Council of the People's Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia in 1961 approving the construction of a new monument that would celebrate Yugoslavia's socialist revolution. The location of the monument was set to be one of the centerpieces of the new "Revolution Square" project which would redevelop Ljubljana's old Convent Gardens across from the "Palace of the People's Assembly", completed just a few years before in 1959. The Revolution Square project began in 1962 under the leadership of famous Slovene architect Edward Ravnikar. It was to be a sleek expansive plaza dominated by mixed-use modernist architecture (including a pair of two towering skyscrapers). As for the new monument project meant to sit within the square once it was completed, first efforts on that project began in the summer of 1961 when a 25 member 'monument committee' was created who were tasked with organizing a Yugoslav-wide design competition whose winner would be awarded the commission to build this new monument. There were 32 design entries submitted during the competition (Photo 5), with proposals submitted from leading Yugoslav sculptors and architects such as Janez Lenassi, Aleksandar Đokić, and Miodrag Živković. However, the concept proposed by Slovene sculptor Drago Tršar & architect Vladimir Braco Mušič was selected as the winning submission (Photo 6). Tršar & Mušič (along with a team of construction assistants) began work on the project in 1964. After creating a full-sized 32 tons of gypsum plaster model in their studio, the plaster version was cut into 240 sections (roughly 1x2m in size) with the intention of soon casting them into bronze.
Photo 5: A selection of runner-up proposals from the design competition, 1962
Photo 6: An early model of the monument by Drago Tršar, 1962 [source]
The monument was originally planned to be completed by 1965, however, as a result of economic reforms and austerity measures implemented in Yugoslavia in 1965, the entire monument project was put on hold and delayed for almost 10 years. It was not until 1974 that the project was reinitiated and the plaster sections of the monument were finally cast into bronze, which was completed at the famous art foundry of Vladimir Šeb in Zagreb. These 240 small plaster sections were then welded into 4 large sections, at which point they were loaded on a train and sent back to Ljubljana. As a result of budgetary restraints, the scope of the monument's final erection at Revolution Square (and the setting which architect Vladimir Braco Mušič designed for it to sit within) was greatly altered and reduced from the original drawings. While the monument stayed the same, the space within which it would reside changed drastically. With these implemented alterations, the final raising and construction of the monument was completed during the spring of 1975, with each of the four bronze sections affixed at their interior to reinforced concrete pillars. However, due to these hasty alterations to the original project plans, many unforeseen issues arose, for example, the stone pedestal the monument was to sit upon was too small for the sculpture, leaving the work looking somewhat awkwardly placed.
The unveiling ceremony for the memorial sculpture, which was titled "Monument to the Revolution", was held on May 30th, 1975, marking 30 years since the city's WWII liberation (Photo 7). Many sources assert that it stands as the largest bronze monument in Slovenia, however, I have also seen the same claim made towards the "Liberation Monument" in Maribor, Slovenia. This event was attended by thousands of people, along with leading Yugoslav politicians and WWII veterans. Interestingly, just a few weeks after the monument's official unveiling, North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung visited this site during his 1975 state visit to Yugoslavia and laid a wreath beneath it during a large ceremony.
Situated on the west edge of Republic Square in front of a grouping of several large linden trees, the central element of the "Monument to the Revolution" complex is tall bronze memorial sculpture sitting atop a large marble block. Weighing roughly 19 tons, the form of this sculpture is characterized by its towering upwardly pointing structure, pointing 11m into the air at a slight angle and topped with a series of reduced figures with outstretched arms. Off of this central part of the form extends a 10m long flat horizontal overhang section whose top edge is dotted with a series of spheres. Underneath the sculpture's overhang are facilities for a shallow fountain and pool element along the ground. While this fountain operated during the Yugoslav-era, it ceased to work after the 1990s. Meanwhile, in front of the monument at the top of the short set of stone stairs is a bronze urn on a pedestal. This appears to have been meant to operate as an eternal flame element, but whether this was ever fully operational is also not clear. Also next to the monument is a large 1.5m tall stone block bearing several inscriptions.
Photo 7: A newspaper photo of the 1975 unveiling ceremony [source]
Upon the dismantling of Yugoslavia and Slovenia becoming an independent country in 1991, the name of "Revolution Square" was changed to the name "Republic Square". Yet, the memorial sculpture's name "Monument to the Revolution" stayed the same. The monument continues to be a central landmark not only for Republic Square, but also for the city of Ljubljana. Through, the monument is not widely known outside the region, nor is it as well known in general as many other Yugoslav-era WWII memorial works. It appears maintained in a good condition and sees regular visitors, while also hosting ceremonial events. Furthermore, the space around Republic Square is quite an active and vibrant public area, with many people, including tourists, coming to relax and sight-see around the area.
Plaques, Engravings and Graffiti:
There are a few notable inscriptions here at the "Monument to the Revolution" in Ljubljana's Republic Square. The first, and most prominent, inscription at this complex is a set of raised relief words fixed onto a large rectangular block directly next to the central bronze memorial sculpture. Long inscriptions are located on both broad-sides of the block. These inscriptions are the first two paragraphs from the introduction of the 1974 version of the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia. A full version of this constitution is available at THIS link [PDF]. The inclusion of these words here are logical, considering their symbolic importance, but also since the constitution was passed just the year before. The first part of this inscription (Slide 1), which is the one which faces east towards the square, roughly translates from Slovenian into English as:
"In the Constitution, it was written: that the workers, peasants, working intelligentsia and all the progressive people of Slovenia, united with the all-powerful Liberation Front organization with the Communist Party at the helm, were able to overthrew the old social order based on exploitation, political oppression and people's inequality, and began to create a society in which man and his work would be freed from exploitation and arbitrariness and in which the conditions for the free and comprehensive development of the Slovenian nation would be created."
Meanwhile, the next inscription is located on the opposite side of this block and can be seen in Slide 2. This inscription roughly translates from Slovenian into English as:
"In the Constitution, it was written: that through the People's Liberation Struggle and Socialist Revolution, inextricably linked to other peoples and nationalities of Yugoslavia, the Slovene nation created its own state based on its sovereignty and power for the first time after a thousand years of oppression, fascist aggression and internal struggle, and from this, we have self-government of the working class and all working people, which itself is a part of the federal state of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia as a state community of voluntary united nations and nationalities."
Finally, the last inscription worth mentioning is a set of raised letters on the stone stairs leading up to the monument seen in Slide 3. This short message is simply communicating the name of the monument, the city and month it was dedicated: "Monument to the Revolution, Ljubljana, May 1975".
As far as graffiti, in the area of the tree-laden courtyard behind the monument has a few bits of innocuous spraypainted graffiti on the concrete tree planting boxes. (Slide 4). However, the monument elements themselves are often free of graffiti. However, news reports indicate that in July of 2019, some vandals attacked this monument with a series of orange spraypainted politically motivated messages, one of which can be seen in Slide 5. The message seen here, spraypainted on the large inscribed block, contains a message which says "criminal dictaors".
The "Monument to the Revolution" here in Republic Square was unquestionably meant by its creator Drago Tršar to communicate a significant amount of symbolic meaning. The first characteristic about the monument's form most clearly recognizable is its overall sprawling, dynamic and upwardly reaching shape, which many sources describe as being very tree-like, dubbing the monument a "Tree of Revolution". This may also explain why it was so overtly placed among a collection of towering arching trees, as an effort to mirror their shape. Other Yugoslav WWII monuments have also experimented with combining the ideas of the tree and the revolutionary uprising, such as the Monument to the 1st Sisak Partisan Detachment in Croatia.
Photo 8: A close up of the monument
Meanwhile, many observers note the large number of figures visible within the monument's form, with one source commenting that its shape transcends socialist aesthetics with its "simplified abstraction of the human image in a sculptural group portrait, depicting not the individual, but a collective work in a spirit cultivated by brotherhood and unity". This same source further describes the monument to be operating as a depiction of the historical struggle of the Slovene people, with the gravity-defying overhanging left section representing the era of subjugation and oppression (with human heads just barely visible upon its top edge), while the towering right side representing the people's uprising and revolution (visible with the scores of arms reaching up to the sky in victory and glory) (Photo 8). In a 2010 book by Jure Mikuš, he relates the words of a Slovene journalist in 1975 who expanded on that same symbolism in this following way:
"The author of the monument, Drago Tršar, indicates his awareness of the masses with ever clearer modeling of figures, which he sculpts from the undefined core of the monument's amorphous mass. It is an extraordinary testimonial monument that, through its expressive and artistic modern stylization, speaks about the historical destiny of the Slovenian nation, with its geyser of forms and vision of an unstoppable future, conditioned through our innate human abilities."
Photo 9: Execution of Stjepan Filipović, May 1942
Photo 10: Monument to Filipović, by Vojin Bakić, 1960
In his book, Jure Mikuš further examines the idea of the archetypal symbolic image of outstretched arms, as well as outstretched wings, being universal symbols for victory, recounting many other examples of them appearing in Yugoslav WWII monument building efforts., pointing to the works of Miodrag Živković at Sutjeska and Kragujevac as prime examples. However, Mikuš alludes to yet another symbolic interpretation of outstretched arms (one that any Yugoslav citizen of the era would have been well aware of), which was the famous WWII photo of Partisan fighter Stjepan Filipović defiantly raising his hands before being executed by German soldiers (Photo 9).
As such, from this perspective, the raised hands can be understood not only as a symbol for victory and energetic optimism, but also that of bold defiance and courage in the face of the most unspeakable evils and oppression. Just like Drago Tršar, the WWII memorial works of many artists across Yugoslavia were inspired by Filipović's defiant gesture, most notably, the 1960 Monument to Filipović at Valjevo, Serbia by sculptor Vojin Bakić (Photo 10).
Status and Condition:
Overall, the "Monument to the Revolution" currently exists in a condition that could be described as fair to good. Upon my most recent visit to the site, the complex appeared well maintained and cleaned, with its surrounding vegetation kept in reasonable check. While the memorial elements of the spomenik complex are generally free of graffiti, defacement or damage by vandals, the concrete tree planters behind the complex were defaced with a considerable amount of graffiti. Also, it is worth mentioning that while the monument itself is usually free of graffiti, there was a significant politically motivated spraypaint attack against the monument in July of 2019 (in addition to several other Yugoslav-era monuments around the city). However, with Republic Square being such prominent and visible location within the city, this defacement was quickly cleaned off by local authorities. While the monument is generally kept in good condition, the site offers very little in the way of information to visitors, as far as placards or sign communicating its historical or cultural significance. In addition, there are also no signs or directional markers in the monument's vicinity promoting it as an attraction. However, the official Ljubljana English-language tourist website does mention the monument as a point of interest.
Photo 11: A view of 2014 Statehood Day celebrations at Republic Square [source]
As the monument is set within a large bustling city square in Slovenia's capital, right in front of the National Assembly, the monument unsurprisingly gets a significant number of people approaching it and checking it out on a daily basis. However, it seems evident that the majority of people approach the monument as curious tourists rather than people who are overtly visiting it as a destination or for the purposes of paying any sort of tribute. As far as commemoration, during my numerous visits to the site, at no point did I find any commemorative wreaths or ceremonial flowers, nor did I find evidence of such memorial tributes looking at the many photos of the monument that exist online. This paired with not being able to find any media articles reporting on commemorative events being held at this site leads me to believe that perhaps ceremonies specifically honoring this site no longer occur here. However, Republic Square itself still continues to routinely host various events and ceremonies, as it was here that President Milan Kučan proclaimed Slovenian independence on June 25th, 1991, named Statehood Day. Annual festivities for Statehood Day have continued to be held here (Photo 11).
Additional Sites in Republic Square Area:
This section explores additional Yugoslav-era historical, cultural and memorial sites in and around the area around Ljubljana's Republic Square that might be of interest to those studying the monumental, sculptural or architectural heritage of the former Yugoslavia. The sites examined here will be the TR2 & TR3 Towers, the Cankar Center and the National Assembly Building.
The TR2 & TR3 Towers:
In 1960, plans were initiated by the city of Ljubljana to redevelop the site of Convent Gardens into a large modern public space. The bid to develop this project was handed to a design team headed by famous Slovene architect Edvard Ravnikar. The concept that Ravnikar devised was two tall prism-shaped skyscrapers set in front of a large plaza which would be named "Revolution Square". Construction began in 1961 on the towers, however, construction was halted halfway through the project in 1964 because of a series of economic issues and austerity measures plaguing Slovenia at that time. As a result of this work stoppage, the specialized system of creating the cantilevered floor levels was interrupted and unable to be reinitiated when work began again in 1966. With both budgetary and technical problems to consider, Ravnikar had to drastically reduce the height and alter the design of the towers. Final construction on the towers was completed in 1974.
Photo 12: A photo of the TR2 & TR3 Towers at Republic Square [source]
Photo 13: Stone markers at Hostages Cemetery, Begunje, Slovenia
Ravnikar's original plans intended the two towers to be of equal height and soar to over 100m tall. However, because of the issues mentioned above, the TR2 Tower (the building on the left in Slide 12) was only able to reach a height of 60m tall, while the TR 3 Tower (the building on the right in Slide 12) reached a height of 69m tall. It is because of these technical and fiscal issues that the two towers are of different shapes and heights. After construction, the TR2 Tower was subsequently occupied by Ljubljanska Banka, while the TR 3 Tower became general office space. The unique central core extensions at the top of the skyscrapers are clad in copper (now in a green patina) and contain cafes and additional offices. Interestingly, this distinct orientation of opposing prisms is a concept that Ravnikar used ten years earlier when creating the Hostages Cemetery complex at Begunje, Slovenia (Photo 13). In a city that is largely dominated by Baroque architecture, the two TR Towers stand as seminal modernist landmarks of the Yugoslav era, while also continuing to operate as one of the central social hubs of Ljubljana. They have existed in good condition up until present day. The exact coordinates for the towers are N46°03'00.5", E14°30'00.4".
Cankarjev Dom/Cankar Center:
Situated just behind the two TR Towers is a cultural event complex called the Cankar Center, the largest cultural center in Slovenia (Photo 14). Unveiled in 1982 and created by famous Slovene architect Edvard Ravnikar, sources describe this work as the finest example in the country of the 'Slovenian Structuralism' modernist style. Funding for the project was made completely by the government of the SR of Slovenia. The complex contains four auditoriums, each of which are named after notable Slovene musicians and literary figures (Jacobus Gallus, Anton Tomaž Linhart, Srečko Kosovel & Bojan Štih). The largest of these spaces is Gallus Hall, which has capacity for over 1,400 people. The center itself is named after 19th-century writer and poet Ivan Cankar, who is considered the greatest literary figure in Slovene history. Covered in white stone, the building was meant to symbolize a white chrysanthemum, in honor of one of Ivan Cankar's most famous poems.
Photo 14: A photo of the Cankar Center [source]
Interestingly, in an effort to keep the size of the Cankar Center's height from conflicting with the viewshed of the TR Towers, a huge underground area was excavated which the auditorium halls would reside within. Thus, roughly two-thirds of the complex is situated below ground. This required the removal of many Roman-era ruins discovered underneath the complex during excavation efforts. The official website for the Cankar Center can be found at THIS link, while the exact coordinates for the site are N46°02'59.2", E14°29'58.4".
Slovenian National Assembly:
Upon its completion after five years of construction in 1959, what is today called the Slovenian National Assembly building was originally called the People's Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia during the Yugoslav-era. As it did during the era of Yugoslavia, it continues to operate as the central governmental hub of Slovenia, housing both of the country's two branches of the Slovenian Parliament. Created by Slovene architect Vinko Glanz, this was the first completed component to the Revolution Square development project. The facade of the building is designed in the International Style of architecture, but with a unique flourish of a classically-inspired entrance with green granite columns and lintel. Adorning the entrance around the large oak and glass doors are several dozen life-sized bronze statues, created by the sculptor team of Karel Putrih and Zdenko Kalin (Slide 15). These sculptures depict various scenes of Slovene life, culture and industry.
Photo 15: The Slovenian National Assembly building [source]
Photo 16: A view of a small section of Pengov's fresco inside the National Assembly
Meanwhile, as this government complex was meant to be a symbol for Slovenia, it is largely created from building materials largely sourced from within the borders of Slovenia. This is true for both the interior and exterior of the building. Furthermore, within the building are a fantastic array of Yugoslav-era murals, mosaics and frescoes depicting the struggle of the Slovenian people through the ages. The largest and most impressive of these artworks are the 64m long fresco by artist Slavko Pengov that wraps around the entire perimeter of the building's Great Hall (Photo 16). Painted in Socialist Realist style, this massive fresco shows the history of Slovenia, from the Carantania dukes of the 7th century, to the peasant revolts of the 16th century, up to the events of WWII and the creation of Yugoslavia. A beautiful virtual tour of the National Assembly building can be done at THIS website, while in-person tours can be arranged by appointment at the Assembly's official website. The exact coordinates for the building are N46°03'04.8", E14°30'04.5".
And Additional Sites of Interest:
"Genesis of the Core" sculpture: Situated between the TR Towers and the Maxi Supermarket on Republic Square is a fascinating metal abstract sculpture which is title "Genesis of the Core/Genza jedra" (Photo 17). Created by Maribor-based Slovene sculptor Slavko Tihec, the form of this 5-6m tall work is a meditation on repetition and layering, with its action concentrated on the idea of dynamic motion through stacked "emergence" from the circular core of the mass. This sort of thematic exploration through layering and repetition can be found in many of Tihec's works. The sculpture's hypnotic portal-like dimension imbue it with a sense of mystery, especially with the center top-most layer resembling a pair of eyes starring deep into the abyss. Lead architect of the Revolution Square project, Edvard Ravnikar, worked closely with Tihec on developing this sculptural work for the square and was instrumental in arranging its setting and placement. The exact coordinates for the sculpture N46°03'01.0", E14°30'03.4".
Photo 17: "Genesis of the Core"
Photo 18: Monument to Ivan Cankar
Monument to Ivan Cankar: Located directly in front of the Cankar Center at Republic Square is a monument dedicated to the most influential literary icon in Slovene history, Ivan Cankar (1876-1918) (Photo 18). Not only is he considered the greatest writer in the Slovene language, he is also credited as the first Slovene who was able to make their living exclusively from writing. This bronze cube-shaped monument commemorating him was unveiled in 1982 and created by Slovene sculptor Slavko Tihec. Meant to resemble a wide book, one side of the cube is smooth and bears Cankar's signature (the book's cover), while the adjacent sides are split into thin segments or lamellas of varying thickness (meant to be the pages of the book). Tihec was able to craft these thin segments in such a way that when viewing them from a few meters away, an image of Cankar's face reveals itself. On the "back cover" of the book sculpture in another inscription, this time a quote from Cankar, which roughly translates into English as "My work is a premonition of the dawn". The exact coordinates for this sculpture are N46°02'59.3", E14°29'59.6".
Monument to Edvard Kardelj: Located just a few dozen meters south of the Monument to the Revolution is a figurative memorial statue dedicated to Edvard Kardelj (Photo 19). Born in Ljubljana in 1910, Kardelj was one of the leading figures in the instigation of the communist Partisan uprising in Slovenia. He also went on to become one of the most prominent politicians in all Yugoslavia, to the point of serving as a member of the Presidency of Yugoslavia for the SR of Slovenia. Kardelj passed away in 1979, as such, this monument was erected in his memory two years later in 1981 on Revolution Square (called Republic Square today). Also created by Slovene sculptor Drago Tršar, the monument is composed of 15 bronze figures (~3m tall), 14 of which are decontextualized and featureless, except for one in the front stepping forward from the crowd, who is clearly shaped as Kardelj. Perhaps this work is attempting to symbolically emphasize Kardelj as a unique seminal individual and as a well-defined leader among men. In 1995, the Ljubljana City Council put forward an effort to remove this monument, but it was not successful. The exact coordinates for this monument are N46°03'02.9", E14°29'59.6".
Photo 19: Monument to Edvard Kardelj
Photo 20: Grave of National Heroes
The Grave of National Heroes: On the edge of the park across the street from the Monument to the Revolution is a memorial dedicated to Ljubljana's national heroes from WWII (Photo 20). Unveiled in 1949 and created by architect Edo Mihevc and the sculptor Boris Kalin, the primary element of this memorial is a sarcophagus-shaped stone monument with a set of bronze relief figures on its broadsides depicting scenes from WWII. On the sides of the monument is inscribed the 16 names of those who are interred within a tomb beneath this site. Around the top edge of the monument is a patriotic poetic inscription by famous Slovene poet Oton Župančič which roughly translates into English as: "A homeland is something assigned to each of us, along with one life and one death. Freedoms we are obligated to fight for, what is life and what is death? The "future" is the belief of one who dies for it, it rising to life as they fall to death." The monument is in good condition and regularly hosts commemorative events. The exact coordinates for this site are N46°03'05.6", E14°30'01.8".
Trail of Remembrance and Comradeship: As mentioned in the section at the top of this page about Ljubljana's WWII history, the city was completed surrounded from 1942 to 1945 by a barbed-wire fence, cutting the city off from the outside world. This left Ljubljana in almost ghetto-like conditions, where many citizens suffered, starved and perished as a result. In 1985, a 33km long historical and memorial pedestrian/biking trail was opened which carefully follows the route of the now-removed fence, which was originally named the Trail of Remembrance and Comradeship but today is also referred to as the 'Trail Along the Wire' (Pot ob žici). The trail is well marked with signposts which say "POT" (or 'path' in English) and contains a significant amount of interpretive signs and educational placards. In addition, there are also 102 octagonal stone memorial pillars along the trail designed by architect Vlasto Kopač, each decorated with a carved barbwire motif. These pillars mark the former sites of Italian-built bunkers that existed during the war. However, the ruins of a few original bunkers still exist along the trail. In addition, there were originally a series of stylized slanting red flagpoles at the locations where the trail crossed the main entrances into the city (created in the mid-1980 by sculptor Janez Koželj) (Photo 21), however, they were all removed during the 1990s. Though, in 2018, sources relate that three were restored. Numerous other small monument sites are also scattered along the trail.
Photo 21: A 1980s image of one of the memorial flag poles. Credit: Janez Koželj Archive
Every year on May 9th, a memorial walk called 'March along the Wire' (Pohod ob Žici) is hosted on the trail to mark the WWII liberation of Ljubljana and the victims who died during the war. While the trail can be accessed from anywhere, the official starting point is in front of the Gruda Company along Tržaška Cesta street, where a there is a large parking lot at these coordinates: N46°02'13.5", E14°27'54.1". An English/Slovene brochure with more information about the trail can be found at THIS link [PDF], while an interactive map of the trail can be found at THIS link.
Finding the "Monument to the Revolution" memorial work is a relatively easy endeavor. Located right on the edge of Republic Square in the city center of Ljubljana, Slovenia, it is just within a few hundred meters from nearly all of the central tourist attractions of the city, easily reachable by walking from just about anywhere. If you are approaching the area by car, parking can be made where it is available, but it is good to know that there is actually a parking garage underneath the square.
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Selected Sources and More Information:
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