Keywords Change this

Yugoslavian Modernism, Monument

Project timeline

1972 – 1975


Monument & Memorial

Location Change this

Novi Travnik
Bosnia and Herzegovina

Architect Change this


Article last edited by Bostjan on
October 27th, 2022

Necropolis of the Fascism Victims in Novi Travnik Change this

Novi Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina
by Bogdan Bogdanović Change this
1 of 9

Description Change this

Monument of People’s Liberation Movement close to Novi Travnik, officially named Cultural landscape - Fascism victims necropolis in Novi Travnik, was built to commemorate 700 civilians who were brutally murdered on this site by the Ustaše invading forces in August of 1941.

After the Axis powers occupied, at the time, Kingdom of Yugoslavia in April of 1941, region of today’s Bosnia and Herzegovina was forcefully taken over by the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) that was governed by the ultra-nationalist Croatian army known by the name Ustaše. In the beginning of August of 1941, Ustaše who governed the administrative unit Travnik, issued a directive #105/41 that stated that all known communists and their sympathisers in the wider region of Travnik were to be arrested and eliminated. Most of these communists were members of Jewish and Serbian ethnic groups. The directive stated that the arrest and elimination of these people can be executed without any solid evidence of their involvement with the People’s Liberation Movement. Arrests were done illegally by the cover of the night on August 3rd 1941, and the arrested groups were transported to the Smrike area on the Čamića hill, north-east of today’s Novi Travnik where they were brutally murdered. During the course of summer of 1941 it is estimated that around 700 innocent civilians were arrested and murdered in the same place, but there are no records of the definite number of casualities. Travnik was liberated on October 22nd 1944 by the yugoslav Partisans.

In September 1972, mayor of Travnik municipality Abdulah Maglić personally commissioned Bogdan Bogdanović to design a memorial on Čamića hill, which Bogdanović accepted and as soon as October 1972 he started working on the design for the Fascism victims necropolis in Smrike. Spomenik was officially opened to the public on February 19th 1975, on the 30th anniversary of the Partisan liberation of Travnik from the fascist invaders. Bogdanović designed 12 monolithes made of bihacit stone blocks, each 2-3m in height, that were laid in pairs on a stone base around the top of the Čamića hill. As Bogdanović often practiced, he employed local stonemasons from the region of Travnik, instead of classically trained sculptors, which makes this spomenik even more authentic to the Travnik region and history.

All 12 monuments are similar in character, all representing stone serpent-like creatures, often interpreted as stone dragons which are symbols of the medieval Bosnian kingdom, watching with their eyes wide open over the people of Travnik from atop of a hill. Below the 12 monuments is a crypt with the remains of the people murdered in the 1941 Travnik massacre. One approaches the spomenik through a commemorative mountain path upon which there is a stone that says: On Smrika between Bukovica and Vilenica, in 1941 ustaša criminals have brutally murdered around 700 innocent and helpless citizens of Central Bosnia.

All 12 monoliths have 2 identical motives, big open eyes that symbolise sadness and tragedy that the visitor should experience in order to understand fully that this is the place of immense tragedy and murder of innocent peoples of Travnik and symbol of the horseshoe that some historians interpret as the greek omega letter that symbolises “the end of things” or death and “renewal of the cycle” where life becomes death and death becomes life. In the book Bogdanović by Bogdanović published in 2008 by Vladimir Kulić, Bogdanović was quoted: "I always considered Travnik to be one of the best and most interesting of my works. It is completely surreal in form. But if I were to explain it to an archeologist, I would say it was orphean, that there is something oracular in it, including the omega symbol, antique funeral symbol.. I was already famous when I was commissioned to design this spomenik so I didn’t have to explain myself. It is a story of mythical creatures: ambisbaena is a two-headed serpent-like creature that goes into one direction by day, and in the other by night. It symbolizes the end of time."

In 2012 the Commission for Preservation of National Monuments put the Necropolis on the list of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, after years of neglect and 1992-1995 war damage. One of the monolithes has been completely destroyed and shredded into pieces as a result of shelling and gun fire during extensive fighting around Smrike and Travnik in 1992-1995. Bogdanović was against the restoration of the monument as he was fascinated by its decay and the antique transformation of the spomenik due to lack of maintenance. Staircase that leads up to the spomenik has been completely overwhelmed by dirt and nature. In November 2017 the Necropolis was cleaned and in 2019 a signpost was installed that points towards the spomenik and explains how to get there. In the summer of 2021, bullet holes were plastered but this intervention was far from restoration practices prescribed by the law for restoration of national monuments. The destroyed monolith was put together using concrete, plaster and steel rods. Area around Smrike and Čamića hill is still considered a mine zone, so visiting the monument is recommended using already existing paths and always with a local guide.


  • Dunja Krvavac


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