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Majdanpek (Мајданпек)

Brief Details:

Name: Monument to the Liberators of Majdanpek (Споменик ослободиоцима Мајданпека)

Location: Majdanpek, Serbia

Year completed: (unknown)

Designer: (unknown)

Coordinates: N44°25'43.3", E21°56'34.4" (click for map)

Dimensions: ~15m tall monolith

Materials used: Poured concrete and rebar

Condition: Abandoned

(MAY-dan-pek)

History:

This spomenik at Majdanpek, Serbia commemorates the fallen soldiers and civilians from the greater region who perished during the course of the National Liberation War.

World War II

As old Yugoslavia was dismantled with the Axis invasion in April of 1941, the Germans set up the region of Serbia into an area called the "Territory of the Military Commander in Serbia", which was under the supreme control of its appointed military commander, Serbian Nazi-collaborator Milan Nedić. Majdanpek, along with the rest of Serbia, came under brutal occupation from its German oppressors (Photo 1). The city of Majdanpek, a strong copper/gold mining town nestled in the Timok frontier's Homolje mountains, had all of its mines and resources taken over by the Germany Army to use towards their war efforta, while forcing all of the mine's workers to continue toiling in the ore pits for German benefit.

In July of 1941, a Serbian occupation-resistance movement started in Bela Crkva, Serbia, which then spread across much of the rest of the country. Many Serbs and oppressed civilians in Majdanpek began to join the region's organized anti-occupation resistance movements, such as the communist-led Partisans and the Serbian royalist Chetniks. While the rebels attempted to wrestle control of the town Majdanpek away from the Germans, their initial attempts were unsuccessful. In retaliation, the German occupiers sent thousands of dissidents and civilians across the region to forced labor and internment camps at the mines in Majdanpek and the nearby city of Bor. As the war came to an end, many of these prisoners working the mines were executed. Majdanpek was finally liberated in late 1944 during the Belgrade Offensive, when Red Army troops crossed into Serbia just east of the city, freeing towns from German control along their way to Belgrade.

Photo 1: German soldiers in occupied Majdanpek, 1941

Spomenik Construction & Present Day

At some point after the war, presumably during the early 1970s, a large spomenik complex was built on the hillsides just north of the center of Majdanpek on the towns hilly outskirts. However, my research has not been able to yield any specific information about the spomenik, who built/designed it, when it was built, or what exactly it was supposed to represent or symbolize. I will update this section with more information as I acquire it. Today, the monument sits in relative ruins, seeming to be completely abandoned, defaced and forgotten.

Plaques, Engravings and Graffiti:

No engraved or inscribed memorial elements here at the Majdanpek monument currently exist. All of the site's plaques, markers and engravings which once were situated at this site have either been stolen or destroyed. Directly behind the monument, there is a memorial wall (Slide 1), which once had a series of plaques attached to them. In Slide 2 you can see the outline of where they once would have been. I have seen no historic photos of this spomenik complex, so, what sort of engravings or plaques existed here (and what they may have said or depicted), at this point is completely unknown. 

In addition, the entire spomenik complex here is covered in graffiti (Slide 3). While there is certainly a great deal of it, no graffiti I saw seemed to communicate any sort of nationalistic or political messages.

Slideshow

Symbolism:

In my research on this spomenik complex here in Majdanpek, I was not able to find any information on the symbolic significance of the site's primary sculptural monument. However, from all indications, it appears to be of a work which is purely abstract nature, presumably not attempting to convey any specific messages or symbols in its form, possibly in an effort to stand as inclusive and universalist as possible. If any readers here have any information regarding the symbolic nature of this site, I encourage you to please reach out to me!

Status and Condition:

This memorial complex, and all of the elements associated with it, appear completely abandoned and forgotten by the local community and the municipality of Majdanpek. No signs point to this site, no information exists informing visitors of the site's importance and no efforts are made by the city to promote or advertise the memorial as a point of interest or attraction. There are no indications that any people from either inside or outside the community visit or pay respects to this monument, as I found no honorific wreaths, candles or flowers of any sort upon my most recent visit. It appears the only people who do come to this site are the vandals and thieves who destroy it. I found no indications or documentation that any nature of commemorative or remembrance events are held here any longer, nor were there any signs that the city of Majdanpek (or any other groups, for that matter) are investing efforts to restore or rehabilitate this complex. Very little information is available about this site anywhere. If you reading this have any further information on this spomenik complex at all, please contact me.

Additional Sites in the Majdanpek Area:

This section will explore additional Yugoslav-era historical, cultural and memorial sites which exist in the greater area of Majdanpek, Serbia. The two sites which will be explored are the Memorial Fountain to Fallen Fighters in the town center, along with the monument on the banks of the Danube in Donji Milanovac.

City Center Memorial Fountain:

In the city center of Majdanpek there is located a memorial fountain, situated in a square in front of the Magistrate's Court building and the Cultural Center, which is dedicated to the town's local fallen fighters who fought and perished during WWII. Built in 1961, the memorial consists of a thin and pointed copper spire that extends roughly ~15m into the sky (Slides 1 - 3). Around the sculpture is a rectangular pool and spouts from the spire spray water into the pool. During the Yugoslav-era and up until present-day, this monument has come to stand as a central symbol for the town of Majdanpek, as well as an identifying marker for the town's many miners and industrial workers. In 2017 the monument underwent an extensive restoration process, during which it was completely rebuilt and all the weathered copper was replaced with new bright and polished copper panels. The fountain continues to operate and the structure is now well maintained.

 City Center Memorial Fountain - Slideshow

The exact coordinates for the monument are N44°25'21.1", E21°56'10.9". In Slides 4 & 5 you can see historical images of the monument site from the 1960s and 70s.

Monument in Donji Milanovac:

Less than a 30km drive down the mountains to the northeast over the Đerdap National Park and down to the Danube River you will find the small tourist town of Donji Milanovac. Situated right on the banks of the Danube you will find in this quaint hamlet a substantial monument which is dedicated to the fallen fights of WWII/NOB (Slides 1 & 2). Created in 1983 by sculptor who is indicated on a plaque at the site only as "M. Gojković" (Slide 3), the work is characterized by a 19m tall thin spire of five stainless steel tubes around which is a circular concrete courtyard with built-in seating.  There are several plaques here at the site which contain inscriptions of dozens of names of local fighters who perished during the war (Slides 4 & 5). One of these plaques was even installed as recently as 2015, more than likely to update the site with recently found records. The memorial complex exists in a reasonable state of condition and appears to be well maintained by the local authorities.

 Monument at Donji Milanovac - Slideshow

The exact coordinates for the monument are N44°27'59.3", E22°09'01.7". If you are visiting Donji Milanovac to see this monument, there are several other interesting cultural and historical sites to visit in this area of the Danube River, such as the Iron Gates Gorge, the Lepenski Vir archeological site, the rock tower sculpture of the Dacian king Decabal, as well as the impressive Golubac Fortress.

Directions:

Getting to the memorial site here at Majdanpek, Serbia is slightly tricky, so it is important to follow these navigation instructions. From the town center of Majdanpek at the Church of St. Peter and Paul, follow Saint Sava St. (Svetog Sava) north uphill and as you make your first curve, the name of the street will change to Kapetanska road. Then, as you continue to head up the hill roughly 1km, you will see a green sign pointing towards the "Sports Centre 6th August" on the right (Photo 2). As you see the sign, take the left turn onto the road directly across from this sign. Follow this road about 200m and you'll see a gravel parking spot just past the abandoned school (Photo 3). Exact coordinates for parking are N44°25'41.5", E21°56'37.0". Then, simply follow the old pathway up the hill to the spomenik complex.

Majdanpek MAP2.jpg

Click to open in Google Maps in new window

Photo 2: Left turn towards monument off Kapetanska Rd.

Photo 3: Parking for monument next to abandoned school

Comments:

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