News 08 May 15

Zagreb Marks 70th Anniversary of WWII Liberation

Zagreb is holding a series of events to mark the anniversary of its liberation on May 8, 1945, when anti-fascist Partisan forces reclaimed the city from the WWII Nazi-allied administration.

Sven Milekic

Partisan forces entering Zagreb in 1945.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The Alliance of Anti-Fascist Fighters of Croatia (SABA) and the city authorities on Friday staged a commemoration for fallen anti-fascist fighters at the central memorial to national heroes from WWII in Zagreb’s Mirogoj cemetery.

On May 8, 1945, Partisan forces from Serbia and Bosnia crossed the river Sava and entered the city. Although the majority of forces loyal to the Nazi-aligned puppet state Independent State of Croatia had left the city a day before, some fighting continued across the city. The liberation ended Ustasa regime’s four-year rule.

Partisans from the 65th division from Serbia, which entered the city first, and from Montenegro attended the commemoration and laid wreaths.

“I am from the First Proletarian Brigade; we liberated Belgrade and continued towards Zagreb, which we liberated as well. In Vrbovec and Sveti Ivan Zelina [small towns east of Zagreb] we fought heavy battles in which a lot of people died. We came here on May 8,” former Partisan fighter Zdenko Duplancic told BIRN.

The head of the Russian veterans’ association and the former chief-of-staff of the Soviet Army, Mikhail Moiseyev, led a delegation from the Russian Federation at the commemoration.

The city authorities and the In Croatian government are also holding a special honorary session of city and county assemblies at Zagreb’s old city hall on Friday.

An NGO called the Network of Anti-Fascist Women on Zagreb meanwhile will revive a neglected Yugoslav-era tradition of lighting bonfires along the embankment along the River Sava on Friday evening. The practice of lighting bonfires to mark the place where the Partisans crossed the river started in 1977 and went on until the late 1980s.

NGOs have also organised numerous round tables, lectures, conferences and exhibitions held to mark the liberation of Zagreb during the week.

On Friday evening, a concert featuring bands that support anti-fascist values and tolerance will be held in a Zagreb nightclub.

Monument to fallen anti-fascist fighters with honour guards.

People from across former Yugoslavia gathered to mark the 70th anniversary of Zagreb's liberation.
Zagreb mayor Milan Bandic (second from left) hosting the head of Russian veterans association Mikhail Moiseyev (middle).
Ceremonial guards carrying a wreath to the monument.
Delegations laid their wreaths and paid their respect to fallen antifascist soldiers.
Zagreb mayor Milan Bandic putting a candle on the monument.
Zagreb mayor Milan Bandic laying a wreath.
Delegation of the city of Zagreb, headed by mayor Milan Bandic (left).
SABA delegation paying their respects to their fallen fellow combatants.
President of SABA Franjo Habulin placing a wreath.
Russian delegation headed by the head of the Russian veterans association, Mikhail Moiseyev.
Delegation of Partisans from Serbia, who entered Zagreb on May 8, 1945.
Monument with all wreaths laid.

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