The Yugoslav Partisans’ Necropolis in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, commemorating anti-fascist fighters who died in World War II, has been attacked by vandals.
On Wednesday, Bosnian media reported that all 700 engraved stone memorial markers of the Partisan Memorial Cemetery were smashed.
Historian Dragan Markovina from Mostar posted photos of the damage on Facebook and said “not even in the middle of the [1990s] war did local fascists destroy the Partisan cemetery as thoroughly as they did today.”
“They would write offensive graffiti, smash several markers, but such a systematic smashing of each of the over 700 memorial markers dedicated to the fallen Mostar youth has not happened [until now],” Markovina was quoted as saying by the Bosnian media outlet Klix.
“This could not have been done by two, three, five drunk people. This is obviously a part of some idea, plan or organisation – it’s as clear as day,” he said.
The vandalism was widely condemned by various political parties in Bosnia and international institutions including the EU delegation.
Mayor of Mostar Mario Kordic said the city would help repair the damage.
All the 700 memorial plaques of the Partisan Cemetery in #Mostar were demolished last night.
This is not the work of "vandals", but a well planned crime organized by neo-fascists.
"The Partisan Cemetery suffered less damage during the war", historian Dragan Markovina told Klix. pic.twitter.com/vnINHNqtVR
— Samir Beharić 🇺🇦 (@SamBeharic) June 15, 2022
He wrote in a Facebook post that while the “city administration is preparing projects for the protection and revitalisation of all cultural monuments, a group of vandals is systematically destroying them”.
Kordic said the city of Mostar “does not have jurisidiction over the police nor national monuments”.
The memorial cemetery is one of the largest anti-fascist monuments in the Balkans, but for years it has been a target of right-wing vandals, who have previously spray-painted hateful messages on the markers.
It was designed by the famous Belgrade architect Bogdan Bogdanovic.
Markovina said that the Alliance of Anti-Fascists and others have been calling for the mayor and local council to set up a security service, which already exists some 150-200 metres away in the city park where “there is nothing to destroy.”
“[The park] has a 24-hour security service, there are people who take care of the watering. It has continuous protection, and the national cultural monument has nothing, but it is constantly targeted by vandals. It is a political decision and it is something that the city of Mostar, those who rule it, refuse to do,” Markovina said.
Zeljko Komsic, Bosnia’s Croat member of the tripartite presidency wrote in a Facebook post that the vandalism was a consequence of “HDZ politics”, referring to the nationalist Croat party.
Mostar remains an ethnically divided city since the end of the war in December 1995, with one side of the town largely inhabited by Bosniaks and the other side by Croats.