Monument on the top of Maglic mountain in Bosnia and Herzegovina (2.386 m.a.s.l.) was built in memory of the brave fighters of the National Liberation Army, also known as Partisans.
Led by the Communist Party and Supreme Commander, Josip Broz Tito in June 1943 Partisans succeeded in defeating outnumbered Fascist troops in the wider Sutjeska area.
The story on how the monument was built is still quite unknown, even in Bosnia. Many people have wondered how the material was transported through the difficult rocky terrain and to the highest top of the country. Also, who were these people that built the monument?
Kenan Muslić is a 26-year-old mountain guide who works for Green Visions travel agency in Sarajevo. Kenan is very proud of his grandfather and mother’s uncle, founders of the association Društvo Prijatelja Sutjeske in Sarajevo. Društvo Prijatelja Sutjeske is association that was behind this project. Majority of the members of the association are actually members of Kenan’s family.
Kenan and I had a very interesting conversation about the association his family established. I asked what their main goal was and more information on how the monument was built. It is such an interesting and inspiring story that needs to be shared and heard!
People who made it happen!
The association was established in the 1960s by Vehbija Muslić, Kenan’s grandfather from his mother’s side, and her uncle Selim Karović. They both were born and lived in the area of today’s Sutjeska National Park.
In the mountains of Zelengora (around Gornje Bare Lake) and Maglic (Lokve Derneciste), which are from 1962 part of the national park, Kenan’s closer and distant family had shepherd settlements (katuni). They would stay there the whole summers with their cattle.
A lot of distant relatives from Kenan mother’s side of the family were in the Partisans and fought in the famous Battle of Sutjeska in 1943. The reason they founded the association was to keep memories of all the brave people who fought in the battle from oblivion.
In honour of fallen Partisans, they built a monument on the top of Bosnia and Herzegovina- Maglic Mountain. Today it is situated high and close to the sky, it awaits all persistent hikers to tell a story about the battle.
Carrying materials to the top of Maglic
The members of Društvo Prijatelja Sutjeske carried all the materials to the top on horses, wheelbarrows, and on their backs.
They started from a small shepherd settlement on Prijevor saddle, in the foothill of the Bosnian highest summit. Further, the path took them to Lokve Derneciste, on the other side of the mountain, which is looking toward Montenegro.
From this side of the mountain in the Spring of 1943, the National Liberation Army led by Tito made a breakthrough from Durmitor mountain in Montenegro towards Sutjeska. The troops went through the canyon of Piva river, up to Vucevo plateau, and to Lokve Derneciste. On Vucevo plateau a great fight took place. The Partisans came across a strong resistance of the fascist troops.
From Lokve Derneciste the path continued uphill through the low-growing vegetation. Volunteers had to walk to the other side of the ridge, almost making a loop because of the inaccessible terrain.
Setting up a monument
The memorial plate was made in June of 1973 in the town of Zenica. From Zenica, it was brought to Sarajevo, and then to Sutjeska National Park. The placing of this monument had marked 30 years from the day that many Partisans lost their lives, and overcame superior fascist troops.
They cemented the memorial plate in the ground, near the rock that the Austro-Hungarians set up to mark the summit. The important detail was the metal mast with a flag of Yugoslavia, which stood proudly on the top.
Securing the mast from a thunder
After a year, the thunderstruck had knocked down the metal mast. Nobody from Drustvo Prijatelja Sutjeske knew how to resolve this problem. Kenan’s uncle who graduated from the department of PTT traffic and communications went to Austria to see if he could resolve the situation there.
When Kenan’s uncle returned, he took a couple of members from the association to the top, carrying barrels of water to monitor the flow of water when it’s shed from the top. When they saw where the greatest water flow was, they placed lightning conductor on that spot. They did that because the water attracts lightning to pass through the most humid area and then enters the ground.
Today, the mast is still standing on the top. It is placed on a stone base that marks the top and it is secured with metal wires.
Tito's War Path
Josip Broz Tito was an honorary member of Društvo Prijatelja Sutjeske. In his honour, members of the association have marked the path where Tito went with Partisan units during World War II and stayed longer than 48 hours. It was named Tito’s War Path.
Even today, the War Path is visible in some areas. You can recognize it by the five-pointed star filled with red. Some trails are unfortunately overgrown and therefore impassable.
The hiking trail from Lokve Derneciste to the top of Maglic today is a very popular direction to hike the highest summit of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The first part of the trail follows Tito’s War Path. You can see a red star beside a red-and-white circular marking. Then it separates and goes in the other direction. The rest of the War Path goes toward the canyon of Piva river in Montenegro and further to Durmitor Mountain.
Beside the monument on Maglic, the association has participated in building numerous other monuments throughout the former Yugoslavia.
We should never forget all those persistent and brave Partisans who fought for peace, unity, and brotherhood! In their honour, we must share stories of their courage and actions with new generations.