Updated: Jan 4, 2021
As the dismantling of Yugoslavia began in the early 1990s and resulted in a series of bloody wars that lasted many years, an almost immediate process of WWII antifascist memorial removal and destruction began in many parts of that former country. Sources estimate that the number of Yugoslav-era monuments of this type destroyed reached into the many thousands, but total numbers are unknown. In Croatia alone, which suffered some of the worst bouts of monument destruction of the 1990s and 2000s, it is estimated that over 3,000 (or half of all its antifascist monuments) were either damaged or destroyed. While much attention in academic writing and the popular press is often paid to the most large-scale and artistically abstract Yugoslav-era works which were damaged or destroyed (such as those Petrova Gora, Kamenska, Makljen, etc, etc), the many hundreds of more artistically traditional and/or modest figurative sculptures which were destroyed and damaged across the Yugoslav landscape often get much less attention in contemporary writing and research (a matter true at times even for the Spomenik Database project). Therefore, I am dedicating this lengthy article to writing in detail about 50 of these notable statues and figurative works that were destroyed, lost, removed then disposed of or hidden away from public view in the years after Yugoslavia started being dismantled. Many of these now lost or vanished memorial works were created by some of the country's most significant sculptors and artists (including Sreten Stojanović, Stevan Bodnarov, Antun Augustinčić, among many other eminent luminaries of art), standing as seminal artistic achievements that were highly celebrated in their time. This article strives to highlight these works — many of which find their legacies marginalized in contemporary times — as such, I will examine their histories, their final fates, the former sites' present conditions and, in some cases, their futures. However, it is important to note that this list of 50 lost or vanished statues is NOT a full list of all such works... it is only the tip of the iceberg. This article should be considered only a limited overview of and guide to some of the most notable or conspicuous memorial statuary works of the Yugoslav-era that fall into this category. Many many more exist. If anyone reading this article has additional info on any of the sites mentioned here or has info on lost or vanished statues not included on this list, please contact me!
Bosnia & Herzegovina
1.) Bosanko Grahovo, BiH
Name: Monument to Fallen Fighters or "Call to Arms" (Poziv na ustanak)
Location: Bosansko Grahovo, FBiH, BiH
Author: sculptor Sreten Stojanović
Relevant dates: unveiled in 1952, statues destroyed in 1992
Former coordinates: 44°11'02.1"N, 16°22'09.9"E
Description: Situated atop Gradina Hill just to the north of the small village of Bosansko Grahovo, BiH was the Monument to Fallen Fighters (also referred to as the "Call to Arms" monument). Completed in 1952 by famous Belgrade sculptor Sreten Stojanović, the monument was created to commemorate the armed uprising of the local citizens of Bosansko Grahovo during WWII, an action which began on July 27th, 1941. Not only were local Partisan forces able to keep the area around this village largely free from occupation during WWII, but the region also had a huge outpouring of over 2,000 volunteers for the Partisan movement. The monument consisted of a plateau parade ground which had at its south end a tall stone pillar topped by a bronze statue of a Partisan fighter waving a flag calling people to battle. At the base of the pillar stood a second bronze figure standing guard holding a rifle. While this was a popular site during the Yugoslav-era, the statues were torn down in 1992. I was not able to find information about who or what groups were responsible for the destruction of this site, nor was I able to determine if the remains of the statues exist or not. The former location of the monument currently is in a derelict state and sits in ruins, yet, through the damage, the monument's pillar remains standing. Lastly, I did not find any contemporary efforts working towards the restoration of this monument site nor did I find any information indicating that any contemporary commemorative events are held here any longer.
2.) Glamoč, BiH
Name: The Mother & Child [aka: 'Flight']
Location: Glamoč, FBiH, BiH
Author: sculptor Marijan Kocković [profile page]
Relevant dates: unveiled in 1961, statue removed presumably in the 1990s
Former coordinates: 44°02'40.9"N, 16°50'57.6"E
Description: Nestled within the karst flatlands right on the edge of the Staretina and Velika Golija mountains is the small town of Glamoč, BiH. In 1961, a monument dedicated to the People's Liberation Struggle and the town's fighters and civilian victims who perished during that was erected in the park at the center of town. Created by Dubrovnik sculptor Marijan Kocković, the monument consisted of two parts, the first being a bronze statue of a peasant woman holding her baby with another child behind her tugging on her dress, while the second element, located behind this statue, was a memorial wall engraved with names as well as a set of stone sculptural relief panels of fighters in action. While the statue was often referred to as "Mother & Child", its official name was "Zbjeg/Flight", as in people fleeing in peril, no doubt a reference to the many innocent civilians who, during WWII, were forced to run for their lives from their homes in order to evade oppressive Axis military forces. This monument stood at the center of Glamoč all through the Yugoslav-era, however, it vanished at some point after the Bosnian War of the 1990s. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any information or sources related the to circumstances behind its removal, when it was removed or what its ultimate fate was. At present, while the statue is gone, its empty pedestal remains at the site as well as the memorial wall. Though, the memorial wall has had its sculptural relief covered up and replaced with an art piece celebrating a local traditional folk dance. I found no information about local efforts aimed at restoring the lost Kocković statue nor did I find any articles mentioning that commemorative events are held at this site any longer.
3.) Jajce, BiH
Name: Monument to Moša Pijade
Location: Jajce, FBiH, BiH
Author: sculptor Stevan Bodnarov
Relevant dates: unveiled in 1960s [?], removed in 1990s, restored in 2008
Former coordinates: 44°20'17.2"N, 17°16'05.2"E
Description: Situated at the confluence of the Piva and Vrbas Rivers is the picturesque Bosanska Krajina region town of Jajce. It was here in this waterfall laden village that on November 29th, 1943, Jajce hosted Tito and all his closest military and political partners for the 2nd session of the Anti-Fascist Council of National Liberation of Yugoslavia (AVNOJ), an event that was was regarded as the official starting point of the federation of Yugoslav republics. One of Tito's most trusted political and military advisors here with him at Jajce in 1943 was the communist revolutionary and philosopher Moša Pijade. After the war, Pijade became one of Yugoslavia's leading politicians and remained until his death in 1957 one of Tito's closest friends and collaborators. Also after WWII, the building in Jajce which had hosted the 2nd AVNOJ Session was turned into a museum. At some point (probably in the 1950s or 60s) a statue of Pijade was installed in front of the museum. Created by famous Serbian sculptor Stevan Bodnarov, the bronze statue showed Pijade standing in his typical trenchcoat with his arms held up at his mid-section as if he were having an active conversation, no doubt alluding to Pijade's penchant for debate and discussion. This monument stood in front of the museum through the Yugoslav-era, however, as the museum was closed at the onset of the Bosnian War in the early 1990s, the statue of Pijade was subsequently removed and its ultimate fate or whereabouts is unknown. Some sources assert that the statue was thrown into the nearby Pliva Waterfall, where it may sit to this day, but such assertions have yet to be confirmed. When the 2nd AVNOJ Session museum was re-opened in 2008, the missing statue was replaced, as recounted by reseacher Andrew Lawler, with a duplicate version of Bodnarov's Pijade sculpture that existed at the elementary school in Novi Travnik, BiH, which the school graciously donated to the museum. Up to the present day, the museum continues to operate and the replacement Pijade statue continues to stand in front of it, yet, the whereabouts of Bodnarov's original statue are still unknown.
4.) Konjic, BiH
Name: Monument to the Uprising or "Partizan i Partizanka"
Location: Konjic, FBiH, BiH
Author: [unknown] [approx.]
Relevant dates: creation date probably in 1950s, statue destroyed in the 1990s
Former coordinates: 43°39'14.1"N 17°57'37.9"E [approx.]
Description: Perched originally within a courtyard overlooking the Neretva River in the town of Konjic, BiH was a bronze statue duo known as the Monument to the Uprising ( but more familiarly known as "Partizan i Partizanka"). Created by an author that I have not yet been able to determine in a year that I have not yet established, this memorial work stood as a marking commemorating the local people's rising up against occupation and oppression during WWII. Both figures, representing male and female Partisan fighters, stood holding rifles in their hands, with the female figure's arms held high in victory while the man stood firmly beside her. Despite this monument operating as an significant local landmark, sources indicate that in the early years of the post-Yugoslav era, the monument was thrown into the Neretva River in 1993 by unknown persons. Researcher Andrew Lawler then relates how, over subsequent years, the sculpture was fished out of the river by scavengers and the mangled damaged bronze statues were both then cut up and sold for scrap metal. Presently, the monument's former location in Konjic along the banks of the Neretva has been transformed into a Roman stelae and stećci park. I was not able to find reports relating that there are any local initiatives aimed upon re-creating or restoring the statues.
5.) Kasindo, BiH
Name: Memorial Ossuary for Fallen Fighters
Location: Kasindo, RS, BiH
Author: sculptor Marijan Kocković [profile page]
Relevant dates: unveiled in 1955, statue stolen and destroyed in 2010
Former coordinates: 43°48'02.2"N, 18°23'01.3"E
Description: Within the small suburb village of Kasindo just south of Sarajevo sits the Memorial Ossuary for Fallen Fighters on a small knoll overlooking the community. Created in 1955 by Dubrovnik sculptor Marijan Kocković, this monument complex originally had at its center a bronze figurative memorial sculpture depicting a rifle-toting Partisan fighter charging into battle. Within the monument's crypt were interred 33 local fighters who perished during WWII, a number which includes two National Heroes. While this complex existed in good condition during the Yugoslav-era and even for many years after the end of the Bosnian War of the 1990s, in November of 2010, unknown vandals used heavy machinery to cut the bronze statue at its ankles and remove it from the site. The statue has never been recovered (as it was probably sold off as scrap metal) nor have those who committed this crime ever been identified or prosecuted. In 2012, an additional memorial element was added to this site dedicated to VRS fighters who fell during the Bosnian War. This new monument consists of two black polished stone slabs engraved with names. During the completion of this 2012 addition, the remaining severed bronze feet of Kocković's original 1955 statue were removed. I found no information or articles indicating that any local efforts or initatives were currently being organized to restore Kocković's statue.
6.) Ljubuški, BiH
Name: Memorial Ossuary to Fallen Fighters
Location: Ljubuški, FBiH, BiH
Author: sculptor Marijan Kocković [profile page]
Relevant dates: unveiled in 1959, statue removed in 1990s
Former coordinates: 43°11'46.0"N, 17°32'42.5"E
Description: Within the central city park of the town of Ljubuški, BiH exists a memorial ossuary dedicated to the local fallen fighters of WWII which originally had as its central element a bronze figurative statue. Created in 1959 by Dubrovnik sculptor Marijan Kocković, this monument consisted of a ~8m tall fluted pillar next to which was a pair of statues depicting a Partisan fighter carrying another wounded fighter on his back. This "carrying the wounded" motif was a depiction seen often in Yugoslav memorial sculpture. The crypt beneath the monument contained the remains of 78 fallen fighters (of which three were designated National Heroes). While the monument complex still exists within Ljubuški's city park up to the present-day, the statue was removed at some point during the 1990s. It is not known who exactly removed the statue or what the reasons for its removal were, but information related by researcher Andrew Lawler records that the ruins of the statue were claimed to have been last spotted around 2017 lying in a municipal waste dump. I found no information available indicating that any local efforts were being made to restore or replace Kocković's statue.
7.) Livno, BiH
Name: Monument to Fallen Fighters [aka: "Carrying the Wounded" (Nošenje ranjenika)]
Location: Livno, FBiH, BiH
Author: sculptor Antun Augustinčić
Relevant dates: unveiled in 1952, statue destroyed in 1992
Former coordinates: 43°49'26.2"N, 17°00'13.9"E
Description: The ancient town of Livno, BiH is a modestly sized community sitting upon the Livanjsko field, which is the largest karstic field in the world. Originally, within the central town park of Livno was located a figurative memorial bronze sculpture that operated as a tangible monument to local fallen Partisan fighters from WWII. Commonly known under the name "Carrying the Wounded", this statue set was created in 1952 by the famous Croatian sculptor Antun Augustinčić and depicted two men attempting to carry an injured figure at the center. Imbued with great pathos and drama, the statue was among Augustinčić's most famous works, with its primary focus being on communicating how humane and compassionate Partisan soldiers were towards each other during WWII. After this sculpture's 1952 debut success here at Livno, Augustinčić would be invited to erect similar sculptures at nearly a dozen other locations across Yugoslavia. However, despite the fame and iconic status that this memorial sculpture garnered during the Yugoslav-era, the statue was dismantled and removed in the aftermath of conflicts that took place in Livno during the spring of 1992. I was unable to find any sources that could relate the final fate of this sculpture in any definitive way (as many rumors and stories of the monument's fate continue to circulate around Livno)... however, people knowledgable about the statue seem to relate that it was broken into pieces at some point after its removal and some of these pieces may still continue to exist in hidden locations. At present time, the former site of the monument has been fully expunged and is simply a patch of unmarked grass in the town park. While this original sculpture is gone, Augustinčić's "Carrying the Wounded" sculpture can still be seen in numerous locations, such as at his gallery in Klanjec, in Zagreb and in Belgrade (among other places).
8.) Stolac, BiH
Name: Monument to Fallen Fighters
Location: Stolac, FBiH, BiH
Relevant dates: creation date probably in 1950s, statue destroyed in 1992
Former coordinates: 43°05'00.7"N, 17°57'32.7"E
Description: The town of Stolac, BiH is a wonderfully scenic town on the Bregava River within the Herzegovina region. Near the town center of Stolac, next to the elementary school, a memorial complex and ossuary were built in the 1950s that were dedicated to the 88 local fallen fighters who perished during WWII. The remains of many of these 88 fighters were interred within a crypt beneath the monument. In its original state, the monument contained a tall pillar at its center which atop stood a pair of bronze figurative sculptures. These figures were depicted in the 'carrying the wounded' motif, with one Partisan fighter holding up an injured fighter over his shoulder. However, the pillar and pair of statues were torn down and destroyed in February of 1992 during the aftermath of fighting between Croat and Serb military forces. Yet, despite this damage, the ruins of the monument continued through the years to operate as a memorial site for those who wished to recognize these fallen Partisan fighters. In recent years, a book sculpture with a red star has been installed in the space of the former pillar as a means of marking the space... however, even this modest memorial has been attacked. In 2015, sources report that the municipal government of Stolac voted to remove the final remains of the original monument while relocating the crypt. However, as of 2020, this relocation has still not yet occurred.
9.) Ključ, BiH
Name: Monument to People's Liberation Struggle
Location: Ključ, FBiH, BiH