FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Military honours

Posted in Beograd, Serbia by folkestonejack on October 15, 2011

A visit to the cemetery may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but Belgrade New Cemetery and the Cemetery of the Liberators of Belgrade deserve their place on any wander through the city. Although the name might lead you to think otherwise, Belgrade New Cemetery is the one of the oldest cemeteries in the city (it was established in 1886) and still remains in use today. It is a vast site and takes some time to explore fully.

My reason for visiting was to see some of the military cemeteries and monuments constructed within the grounds. Once again Yugoslavia’s place at the centre of conflict is made pretty clear with cemeteries and charnel houses for soldiers of the Austro-Hungarian empire, Britain, France, Italy, Russia and Serbia.

Apart from the military monuments there are some impressive memorials and a remarkable replica of the Iverskaya Chapel which stood in Red Square until Stalin had it cleared in 1931. The crypt of the chapel holds the remains of exiled dignitaries from the Russian church. At the time of my visit the chapel was covered in scaffolding and netting, although there was no particular signs of restoration underway.

Chapel of Vojvoda Radomir Putnik with the church of St Nicholas in the background

Although the military monuments are the real draws here, it is the graves of many ordinary individuals and their visual representations in portraits, busts and statues that are the saddest sight. The statues show their subjects fully engaged in life (for example, one showed a teenager at study) graphically illustrating the lives that they were cut adrift from.

Across the road from Belgrade New Cemetery is the equally impressive Cemetery of the Liberators of Belgrade which holds the remains of the Yugoslav soldiers and members of the Soviet Red Army who fought side-by-side in October 1944.

Cemetery of the Liberators of Belgrade

At the entrance you are met by the figure of a partizan standing guard, whilst on either side of the entrance gates are two remarkable friezes. One of the most surprising aspects of the cemetery is the unregimented arrangement of the graves inside the cemetery which resembles a park rather than a formal cemetery. After wandering for a while you are met by the figure of a Red Army soldier at the far end of the cemetery. It is a surprisingly peaceful space in spite of its location so close to a busy road into the city centre.

Section from the lefthand frieze at the entrance to the cemetery

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