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Memorial Park Garavice

Bihać, Bosnia and Herzegovina
1 of 10Boris Trapara

Memorial park for the victims of fascist terror Garavice is dedicated to civilian victims of People's Liberation War from Bihać and its vicinity. It is laid out on two burial sites of the mass execution, with between 7,000 and 12,000 victims executed in 1941 having found their final resting place here. A memorial plaque was installed in Garavice as early as 1949 while the plans for the erection of a monumental memorial complex, initiated by Municipality of Bihać, were drafted in 1969. The grand opening for the memorial park designed by architect Bogdan Bogdanović was held on 27th July 1981. The memorial park comprises 15 statues arranged on two sites. The first group features thirteen identical ones - each occupies an area of 5sqm, rises 6m in height, and contracts somewhat towards the top. They are arranged on the hill and there is a footpath following the terrain relief meandering between them. The trail has two dead ends, which symbolise death. The other group with two statues, located about one kilometre away, is placed next to a major road. Visitors access it from the base of the hill hosting the first group. From the footpath, which slows down or speeds up the pace of walking according to the terrain, the views of the surroundings gradually open with one of the two statues - cenotaphs - being a constituent part of every view. The complex is an intricate sculptural, architectural, and landscape solution with universal symbolism of the Sun, the planets, and the Moon. Memorial park for the victims of fascist terror Garavice is a state monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina and enjoys the highest degree of legal protection. The current physical state of repair is poor on the whole: some of the cenotaphs had been damaged by grenade fire, others are covered in graffiti. The memorial park is not maintained, and the access path has been overgrown with greenery. The two statues by the main road are particularly endangered as there is a construction waste disposal in the immediate vicinity of the monument. The memorial park is visited by tourists and the local population. The complex is relatively safe to visit and easily accessible from the centre of Bihać.

Its antifascist message remains a powerful one though, for those who still choose to visit; and an engraved script on a stone near the entrance to the park reads: “Life is stronger than death, Justice is stronger than crime, Love is stronger than hate.”