These amazing, massive structures were commissioned by Yugoslavia’s former president Josip Broz Tito in the 1960s and 70s to commemorate sites where important WWII battles took place (like Tjentište, Kozara and Kadinjača), or where former Nazi concentration camps stood, like Jasenovac and Niš.
The monuments were designed by several sculptors and architects to present a powerful visual impact that demonstrates the confidence, character and strength of the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia and its citizens. In the 1980s, these monuments attracted millions of visitors per year, especially young pioneers for their “patriotic education.” They are usually mass scale cponstructions with strange angular geometry reminiscent of the shapes of crystals, viruses and DNA helixes.
After the Republic dissolved in early 1990s, they were completely abandoned and their symbolic meanings were forever lost. Many are have been destroyed or vandalized since the collapse of the Eastern bloc republics and their dilapidated condition now lend a mournful, even haunting feel to these spectres of the regions Marxist past.
From 2006 to 2009, Jan Kempenaers toured around the ex-Yugoslavia region (now Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina) with the help of a 1975 map of memorials, eventually publishing a photo book called “Spomenik: The End of History”.