Kozara National Park

The Kozara National Park and Kozara Mountain was in 1967 proclaimed a protected national forest. Kozara National Park is situated in the most-northwest part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, within the northern part of the Dinarides Mountains of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Situated between the rivers of Una, Sava, Sana and Vrbas, these 3,375 hectares of dense forest and hilly meadows of the Kozara Mountain have earned the nickname ‘Green Beauty of Krajina‘. Kozara National Park is member of the EUROPARC, European Federation of National Parks. The spring area of the Kozara National Park includes several crystal-clear rivers: Mlječanica, Crna rijeka, Moštanica, Vojskovačka rijeka and Bukovica. Hiking, mountaineering, cycling, hunting, fishing, swimming, water sports, camping, skiing and enjoyment of intact nature and beautiful landscapes is just a part of what town of Prijedor and Kozara National Park have to offer to visitors. Pleasant climate, lush greenery in summer, clean mountain air and show cover during winter make Kozara National Park and town of Prijedor attractive throughout a year, providing conditions for various outdoor activities and touring numerous monuments and natural attractions.

Hiking to the Lisina peak, the highest point of the Kozara National Park at 938 meters offers a wide panoramic view of this part of Krajina. Kozara Mountain is a popular hunting ground, with a large 18,000-hectare area of the park open to regulated hunting of deer, pheasants, fox, boars, wild hare, and ducks. The overall length of marked mountain biking and cycling trails in Kozara Mountain reaches 300 kilometers. Cycling and mount-biking trails in Kozara Mountain are favorite cycling trails for the enthusiastic members of the successful Austronet-procycling Cycling Club from Prijedor, who run along less busy and local roads, through forests and picturesque villages, which differ in lengths and level of difficulty, running through beautiful areas of Kozara Mountain. A smaller part of the Kozara National Park is designated for nature lovers. Walking, hiking, biking and herb picking are among the many activities in Kozara. Ski track featuring ski lift of 800 meters length has been built on the northwest slope of the Mrakovica Mountain. Wonderful Mostanica Monastery is one of the most significant Orthodox Monasteries of Bosnia and Herzegovina with the long history, located on the northern slopes of Kozara Mountain, 12 km from Kozarska Dubica, in the Mostanica River Valley. It is presumed that Mostanica Monastery has been founded in the 13th century by the Serbian King Dragutin. Lovely Mostanica Monastery had been several times demolished and reconstructed during its long history, last time was rebuilt and extended in 2005 when the dormitory was added.

Mrakovica is the central peak of the Kozara Mountain, 804 meters, on whose top the Kozara Memorial Park-Monument was built in 1972 to commemorate victims of the Kozara soldiers and civilians who found their end during the Second Word War in concentration camps from Jasenovac to Auschwitz. Nezavisna Država HrvatskaIndependent State of Croatia – NDH was created in 1941 on the part of the territory of Kingdom of Yugoslavia that was occupied by the Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Under patronage of the Axis powersRome–Berlin Axis, founded on the ideology of the Ustasha movement and Catolization of all structures of state and society, the NDH conducted organized terror and pogroms on its civilians of other national, religious and racial affiliations who were declared disruptive factors – the Serbs, and Non-Aryans – Jews and Roma. On the German occupied territory of the Independent State of Croatia the Ustase ruled by Pavelic waged the Kozara Offensive, with the assistance of the German occupation forces settled in Zagreb. This was in accordance with the Hitler order that Ustashe must on their own fight with communists and later on against the rebellious partisans.

Unfortunately local Serbs of Kozara experienced terrible suffering and got killed in the Second World War which was outrageously brutal for 23858 children of Kozara. Without mercy those children from Kozara were taken from their mothers arms, as was the Lebensborn pattern contrary to any kind of “life source”, but was cruel end of those children marked with plaques and numbers instead of their names. Numbers were enough for the killers of those children. Mrakovica is the impressive memorial monument – art work by Dusan Džamonja commemorating some 60000 Kozara civilians and around 2500 partisan soldiers killed or sent to concentration camps in summer 1942 during the joint German-Ustashe-Hungarian Kozara offensive.  This Monument to the Revolution in Kozara National Park is among the most impressive among the Yugoslav monuments designed to play in the realms between light an darkness. After the Kozara Offensive in the Second World War the local population of this region was deported from Jasenovac Ustasha concentration camp to Auschwitz Nazi camp.

Testimonies on terrible events of Kozara Offensive from June and July of 1942 when the Ustasha-German Offensive was carried out – are horrible and cruel.  The lagest number of Kozara children was “swallowed” by the Jasenovac Stratification. It was 5683 children killed in Stara Gradiska, Jablanac, Mlaka, Uštica and Jasenovac concentration camps, 3254 children killed in children concentration camps of Gornja Rijeka, Jastrebarsko, Sisak in transportation and while in Zagreb shelters and hospitals, and 1195 children executed in massacre in their birthplaces and refugee exoduses of Kozara and Grmec. Those were unique examples of children concentration camps in that time Europe that even the Hitler soldiers were ashamed of. In the most brutal way Ustashas killed 700 children out of Kozara Serbs persecuted to Slavonia, Moslavina and Bilogora, and 234 children lost their lives in the concentration camp of Sajmiste near Zemun… There are 862 Serbian children buried in the Mirogoj cemetary, in the grave plot number 142…. For some number of the Kozara children it was not possible to determine places where they were executed, nor to find their graves.

The huge enemy Offensive of Kozara area started on the 10th June 1942 under the command of the German general Stahl and lasted until the 4th July 1942. The second National-liberation Partisan squad of “Dr Mladen Stojanovic” of Kozara numbered around 4000 Serb fighters who fought against 40000 fighters of the German-Ustasha-Domobran army, equipped with most modern weapons and military logistics at that time. The Kozara Offensive ended at the middle of July 1942, by partisan break of the ring on the 4th July 1942 at the Patrija clearing, when small partisan units and local population fled to the liberated territory. Half of the fighters of the 2nd Kozara squad “Dr Mladen Stojanovic” and more than 33000 civilians got killed. Those who survived, about 70000 people were deported to the Jasenovac camp and bestially killed, among whom were Serb children, without children killed in Draksenic and on the Dubica Orthodox graveyard, as well as the women and children killed during escape evacuation by the Mostanica Monastery. The exact number of the Serbian casualties in Kozara was never determined. The large Kozara Memorial Monument on Mrakovica peak is artistic work of the Academic artist Dusan Dzamonja. By its height of 33 meters Mrakovica Memorial Monument symbolically presents tremendous value of freedom for civilian population of Kozara and their traditional freedom-loving spirit. 9921 names of Yugoslav partisans who died on this area during the Second World War are inscribed on the bronze memorial Wall. So far historians have researched total of 33398 known civilian victims which is not the final number of killed Kozara area civilians. Unfortunately there are tragic evidences on the ethnic cleansing and sufferings, war traumas and life in displacement and casualties of the Serbs in the war of the 1990-ties after the break-up of Yugoslavia….

Kozara Ethno Festival