Details

Keywords Change this

Forgotten Masterpieces, Memorial, Socialist Yugoslavia

Project timeline

1984 – 1987

Type

Monument & Memorial

Location Change this

Vita Nikolića
81400 Nikšić
Montenegro

Architect Change this

Monument to The Fallen Soldiers of WWII Change this

Nikšić, Montenegro
by Ljubo Vojvodić Change this
1 of 9

Description Change this

History

This monument at Nikšić commemorates the fallen soldiers from this city who fought against Axis occupiers during the National Liberation War (WWII). In addition, this monument is a memorial to the 32 Partisan soldiers and anti-fascist fighters who were executed on Trebjesa Hill where this monument is located.

Monument Construction

In the mid-1980s, regional and national government organizations began to coordinate the construction of a substantial memorial complex to not only commemorate the +1,200 Partisan fighters from the Nikšić region who died during the war, but also to specifically honor the 32 captured fighters executed by Italian forces here at the base of Trebjesa Hill. The commission for this project was given to local Nikšić sculptor Ljubo Vojvodić. The completed memorial complex was officially opened to the public on September 17th, 1987, a date which commemorated the 43rd anniversary of the liberation of Nikšić from Axis forces. The dedication for the monument was given by Montenegrin politicians Dragiša Maksimović and Gojko Mitrov Kilibarda. In the handful of years this monument existed before the dismantlement of Yugoslavia, this complex was a thriving attraction, however, the regional turmoil of the 1990s and 2000s brought a decline in the region's enthusiasm towards their Partisan heritage, which resulted in the monument falling into a state of neglect and marginalization.

Present-Day

Currently, the memorial site at Nikšić has been subject to damage and vandalism over the decades since the 1990s. As recent as 2016, the structure and grounds of the monument have been subject to defacement and damage. However, the overall condition of the monument's facade and concrete remains relatively good overall. Meanwhile, some annual ceremonies and remembrance events are still held at the site, especially in relation to the Yugoslav National Hero Ljubo Čupić, who is still a celebrated figure in the region.

Symbolism

The shape of the memorial sculpture here at the Nikšić monument site appears highly complex, being comprised of a extremely layered forms and abstract shapes. The central motif of the sculpture is the large forward-most circular face. At first glance, this circular face seems very reminiscent of a turning gear, with this 'gear-shape' motif repeated several times around the memorial complex. The creator of this work, Ljubo Vojvodić, employs this gear motif at many of the monument sites he has created around the region. Perhaps this gear-shape is meant to reflect the concept of the spinning 'gears of war' that churn up the lives of normal citizens. However, at the same time, the shape of the monument could be considered to be very floral at the same time, with the large circular face perhaps symbolizing that of a flower pointed towards the sun. This is also a strong possibility, as the symbolism of the flower is repeated at many WWII abstract memorials across the former-Yugoslavia, often representing 'rebirth' and 'renewal'. However, in a 2014. book by historian Veljko Bijelić the symbolism for this monument is described as such:

"This memorial, with its monumental and artistic design, symbolizes the phenomenon of the smiles of the soldiers and patriots sentenced to death before being executed by the occupier, as a reflection of the sorrows of the killers, of the future overthrow of the occupying inhumane part, of the pleasure they enjoy for the freedom they see in the thoughts and the sun felt in the heart of the "victory of the abject, but undefined peoples under the five-star star," a sign of belonging to the Partisan units of the Yugoslav People's Army, unselfishly brave, casual, human and invincible fighters. From the overwhelming bloodshed and the victims of growing fight for freedom, a new life will develop. This is in essence symbolized by all the monuments designed by architect Vojvodić."

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