Sumarice Memorial Park – Kragujevac October Memorial Park Kragujevac

Sumarice Memorial Park – Kragujevac October Memorial Park Kragujevac

Memorial Park “Kragujevac October” /also known as the “Šumarice” Memorial Park/ is dedicated to the Serb civilians of the Kragujevac area with surrounding villages who were brutally executed by the Wehrmacht on 20th and 21st of October, 1941. The Kragujevac October – Sumarice Memorial Park spreads on 352 hectares and include 30 mass graves where victims are buried, while 14 graves is artistically arranged and presented by 10 monuments.

Today the Sumarice Memorial Park covers 352 hectares and includes two parts – the Erdoglija and Susica parts, and since 1979 it is cultural site of extraordinary importance.  “However, the Sumarice Memorial Park in Kragujevac does not contain only the mass graves of killed civilians in the brutal Vermacht crime, but also makes the oldest and the largest military grave in Serbia where are buried Serb soldiers since the sixties of the 19th century.” Nenad Karamijalković

During the World War II in the German-occupied territory of Serbia on the 21st October 1941 an infamous Kragujevac massacre took place with massive war crimes committed by Germans. At the beginning of October 1941 members of communist – partisan movement treacherously attacked in ambush the unarmed German medical units in the village near Gornji Milanovac which resulted in brutal massacre of 10 enemy solders and 23 wounded soldiers. For revenge and by the personal order of Hitler, on the 20th and the 21st October Germans shot 2796 Serb civilians – 2381 from Kragujevac and 415 from the surrounding villages, among who were students of the Kragujevac Gymnasium. The number of Serb hostages to be shot was calculated as a ratio of 100 hostages executed for every German soldier killed and 50 hostages executed for every German soldier wounded, a formula devised by Adolf Hitler with the intent of suppressing anti-Nazi resistance in Serbia. On the 20th and the 21st October 1941 the German occupying forces shot several thousand civilians in Kragujevac in retaliation which is considered one of the most tragic events on the Serbian soil in World War II.

The institution “Kragujevac October” Memorial Park was established in 1953. After the establishment of the Kragujevac October Institution on the very spot where the crime had happened, the Memorial park was established which covers an area of 352 hectares. The urban design project of the Kragujevac memorial park – Sumarice Memorial complex is the work of architects Mihailo Mitrović and Radivoje Tomić. Kragujevac Memorial Park takes the visitor along the 7 kilometers long circular path down to the valleys and Erdoglija and Sušica streams where executions were carried out, and where thirty mass graves were found. So far, there are monuments or, more precisely, sculptural-architectural units with abundance of symbolism that mark the places of ten of them.

– Monument “Pain and defiance” – sculptor Ante Gržetić, marble, built in 1959

– Monument to the executed pupils and teachers (“Interrupted Flight”) – sculptor Miodrag Živković, concrete, built in 1963

– Monument “Resistance and Freedom” – sculptor Ante Gržetić, bronze and concrete, built in 1966

– Monument “Crystal Flower” (Monument to shoe cleaners) – architect Nebojša Delja, concrete, built in 1968

– Monument “Stone sleeper” – architects Gradimir and Jelica Bosnić, built in 1970

– Monument “Hundred for one” – sculptor Nandor Glid, bronze, built in 1980

– Memorial from the people of Croatia – sculptor Vojin Bakić and architects Josip and Silvana Sajsl, steel, built in 1981

– Monument “Against evil” – sculptor Miguel Romo, marble, built in 1991

– Monument to executed Serbs and Jews – sculptor Milorad Zorbić, marble, built in 1991; outside Memorial Park

– Monument of Friendship – architect Anton Stojku, concrete, built in 1994

– Sculpture “Sudjaje” – bronze

– Sculpture “The man without illusions” – bronze

To commemorate the victims of the Kragujevac massacre, the whole of Šumarice complex where the killings took place was designated a memorial park in 1953. At the entrance to the memorial park there is the imposing building of the Memorial Museum “21 October” whose architecture emphasizes the symbolism of Kragujevac massacre. The memorial park was declared a cultural monument of exceptional importance on 27 December 1979. It is now known as the October in Kragujevac Memorial Park, encompassing the area that contains the mass graves and the Interrupted Flight monument as the chief monument to the murdered school students and their teachers.

At the Nuremberg trial it was accepted that about 7,000 civilians were executed in the field outside the city of Kragujevac, while the newer researches found the names of 2,974 Serb men and boys were killed, including 270 children and school students, of whom the youngest was 11 years old. Milivoje Pavlovic, an elderly Kragujevac teacher and Director of the Teacher Training college in Kragujevac, facing the firing squad together with his students said: “Go ahead and shoot, I’m still conducting my class”.

Desanka Maksimovic “Bloody Fairy Tale” poem dedicated to Kragujevac victims /Sanja Peric Radojkovic/

It happened in a land of farmers

on Hilly Balkan, far, far away;

A troop of students died martyred

on one single day.

They were all born in the same year.

For all of them, the school days were the same:

They were all taken

to the same festivals with cheer,

they were all vaccinated

until the last name,

and they all died on the same day.

It happened in a land of farmers

on Hilly Balkan, far, far away;

A troop of students died martyred

on one single day.

And only fifty-five minutes

prior the death moment,

a small troop of fidgets

sat beside their school desks

solving the same hard math quest:

“If a traveler goes by foot,

how much time he needs to rest…”

And so on.

Their thoughts were filled

with same figures and tags

and there was a countless amount

of senseless A’s and F’s

in their notebooks and in their bags.

They were squeezing

a whole bunch of secrets that mattered –

either patriotic or a love letter –

on the bottom of their pockets.

And everyone of them supposed

that he would for a long time,

for a very, very long time

run under the blue sky —

until all math quests on the world

were done and gone by.

It happened in a land of farmers

on Hilly Balkan, far, far away;

A troop of students died martyred

on one single day.

Whole rows of boys took each other’s hands

and leaving the last school class

went to the execution quietly,

as the death was nothing but a smile.

All friends in rows were, at the same moment,

lifted up to the eternal domicile.