After I did my earlier post about North Korea/communism/death, my friend Franz forwarded me a link to a photo essay on Yugoslavian monuments built in the 1960s and 1970s to commemorate World War II battles or mark the former sites of concentration camps. Long story short, wow.
I’m sure when you think the words “Eastern bloc country” and “monument,” you’d conjure up a mental image of some oppressive, Stalinist cement block. Or a sculpture of the Dear Leader beckoning peasants to follow him on the path to socialist enlightenment. Oh no. These monuments are anything but unimaginative or doctrinaire. They’re…well, just look at this one! It’s like something out Lord of the Rings!
It makes sense that these things would have been erected in Yugoslavia, which, despite being a technically Communist country, managed to elude the direct control of the Soviets. As such, each of these monuments has its own character. Some look like the kind of public art you see in American cities. Some are almost Frank Gehry-esque. Others are insanely futuristic, to the point where I can’t imagine someone building them now, let alone 40-50 years ago. There’s one in particular that looks like a setpiece from A Clockwork Orange. And they’re all enormous. I’m seriously blown away.
Sadly, many of the monuments have fallen into disrepair or neglect, thanks to the now-former Yugoslavia’s generally downtrodden state, and the horrific civil wars of the 1990s. But I’m glad someone saw fit to chronicle these before they disappear altogether.