Croatian Defenders Memorial Hall

   - darkometer rating: 5 -
A small memorial with a tank in front of it on the edge of Vukovar, eastern Croatia. The inside of the memorial hall is more symbolic and visual rather than informational, but worth a short stop when in the area.    
More background info: For general background info on the Homeland War see under Croatia, and on the Battle of Vukovar under the main Vukovar chapter as well as the Homeland War Memorial Centre entry.
Another outside branch of the Homeland Memorial Centre in Vukovar, this particular place is known under various names. The Centre calls it “the Memorial Home of Croatian Defenders at Trpinjska Street”, the local tourist information website calls it “Memorial Hall for Croatian Defenders Trpinjska Cesta”, sometimes it's called the “Memorial Room ...”, in the Croatian original it's “Spomen dom hrvatskih branitelja na Trpinjskoj cesti” (which would literally translate as 'Memorial House ...' rather), but I've also seen it referred to as simply “Veterans Memorial”. Take your pick.
The location is where a command centre was set up in a post office for the local 204th Vukovar Brigade. There's still a working post office next to the memorial, with a plaque in Croatian on it by the entrance, so maybe it was rather that building that was the HQ back in 1991.
The memorial building looks pretty much brand new or at least very recent, but I haven't been able to find out when exactly it was designed and opened. The “author” (i.e. designer, curator) of the memorial is given as one Miljenko Romić from Zagreb.
The official descriptions also claim that the memorial building has the shape of a clenched fist (guess the symbolism), but I would never have noticed that.
What there is to see: Not much. The most dramatic component is the large tank on a low plinth that stands in front of the Memorial Hall. Next to it, on the right-hand side of the entrance, is a bust of Blago Zadro, who is described as a “hero” and “leader” of the defenders, but whether he was also the commander of the Brigade that was operating from here, is not made clear.
Inside the Memorial Hall it is quite dark and gloomy. In the centre is a red structure of curved red floor-to-ceiling walls with the names of all the fallen members of that Brigade inscribed on the outside. In the centre of the circular space inside this structure is an installation of a round, slowly rotating glass display cabinet set into the floor with various weapons in it (bazookas mostly) doing their rounds. But I failed to spot the turret of a destroyed Yugoslav Army tank that both the Homeland War Memorial and the tourist info websites are on about being the key exhibit here.
On the walls surrounding this “inner sanctum” are rows of video flat-screens. On these photos and video footage are shown that illustrate the destruction and casualties that Vukovar suffered during the war. Some of the images of charred corpses are rather graphic! Be warned.
The texts and captions that appear on the screens are all in Croatian only, but occasionally you get the gist, e.g. when the words for 'Serbian' (“Srbijanska”) and “terrorist” appear in the same line … it's predictable and quite clear where the accusing finger is pointed here. (And that's despite the fact that the location of the memorial is just west of Borovo, which is still a mostly Serbian borough of Vukovar ...)
There's a similarity in design to the main hall of the Ovčara Memorial, not just in the gloominess and symbolism, but also in that the floor is raw concrete with objects set into it. At Ovčara it's machine-gun cartridges, here it is soldiers' “dog tags” (metal identification tags).
All in all, it's another one of the memorials of the area that is more visual and symbolic rather than informational. You won't learn much at all about the conflict here, but for the visual impression it is still worth popping in if you are in the area. If you're pressed for time, though, it can easily be omitted.
Location: ca. 4 miles (6 km) to the north-west of the centre of Vukovar, eastern Croatia, just west of the new part of Borovo.
Google maps locator: [45.3771, 18.9421]
Access and costs: easy to get to by car or bike; free
Details: To get to the memorial from Vukovar, take the main road leading out of town to the north-west. Keep going straight across at the various roundabouts along the way to get to Trpinjska cesta. The memorial appears on your right after ca. half a mile from the last roundabout in Borovo. Thanks to the big tank standing outside it's pretty much impossible to miss. You can park outside the post office next door to the memorial hall.
Opening times: daily except Mondays, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission free.
Time required: Not long. I spent something like 15-20 minutes in there. If you understand Croatian, you'll probably want a little more than that, but not significantly longer.
Combinations with other dark destinations: Two of the other dark sites of Vukovar covered here can easily be combined with Defenders' Memorial Hall: head east back towards Vukovar and you'll come to Borovo. To get to the Borovo shoe factory ruins, either turn left just before the railway line crossing and then right and right again at the end of the road leading east, or take the third exit at the first roundabout after the rail crossing and fiddle through eastwards towards the main gate of the factory complex.
Taking the first exit of that same roundabout takes you to the road that leads to the abandoned grain silos.
Otherwise head further south-east from Borovo on the main road to get back to Vukovar itself.
Combinations with non-dark destinations: See under Vukovar.
  • veterans memorial 1 - modern design, but traditional inclusion of a tankveterans memorial 1 - modern design, but traditional inclusion of a tank
  • veterans memorial 2 - big tank and souvenirsveterans memorial 2 - big tank and souvenirs
  • veterans memorial 3 - bust outsideveterans memorial 3 - bust outside
  • veterans memorial 4 - central installationveterans memorial 4 - central installation
  • veterans memorial 5 - weapons on rotationveterans memorial 5 - weapons on rotation
  • veterans memorial 6 - dog tags set into the floorveterans memorial 6 - dog tags set into the floor
  • veterans memorial 7 - images of destructionveterans memorial 7 - images of destruction
  • veterans memorial 8 - terrorveterans memorial 8 - terror
  • veterans memorial 9 - plaques on the post office next doorveterans memorial 9 - plaques on the post office next door







©, Peter Hohenhaus 2010-2019

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