Former Yugoslavia has always been a breeding ground for conflict. Architecture played a big role at many turning points in the history of this area, both in the decades after the Second World War and during (and after) the Yugoslav War.
Architect and urban planner Bogdan Bogdanović (1922 – 2010), originally from Belgrade, was one of the architects who designed these monuments. During the same period that he built and designed these monuments (1960 – 1980), he wrote 18 books and over 500 articles mostly on subjects like ‘the death of the city’, ‘the city in history’, ‘critique of the modern city’ and ‘utopias’. Besides that he taught at the architecture faculty of the University of Belgrade, served as mayor of Belgrade from 1982 until 1986, and during the 1990s fought against the ‘ritual killing’ of cities. He spent his whole life studying the rise and demise of cities, visiting many of them at the point that they were in ruins (some examples are Gdansk, Lviv, Arnhem, Rotterdam, Novgorod, Lubeck, Rouen). Bogdanović regarded cities as people, believing that each city had its own soul for which legibility and historical layering is important. He believed that when a city ceased to be legible, it was questionably no longer a real city, leading to its eventual actual demise.
What is so special about these monuments is that they never represent the present, but always the past, the future or -as is the case with Bogdan Bogdanović- the eternity. Currently, in the present, the demolished cities that were described earlier employ architecture as continuation of the battle instead of rebuilding a city after the battle. Nowadays the monuments that are located within these destroyed cities are one of the few places that offer legibility and reflection (societal and historical). This makes them extraordinary places because destroyed cities are places where everything is burdened with tensions, and where truths and meanings are imposed. These cities do not have any counter-places. No places where culture and society are both represented, contested and turned upside down. This makes that the monuments can still fulfill an important role in the destroyed cities. A role that is perhaps even more important than the one these monuments used to have in the past.