CEE/Newsletter/June 2018/Contents/Serbia report

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Serbia report: Reviving roadside memorials throughout the country[edit]

By Mickey Mystique
Krajputaš - roadside tombstone

In memory of the brave soldiers who lost their lives during the World War I exactly a century ago, Wikimedia Serbia made a project whose aim is to document as many remaining roadside memorials in Serbia as can be found.

Therefore, we have conducted a project which involves discovering these monuments and uploading their images to Wikimedia Commons, in order to preserve them from oblivion, inflicted by both harsh weather conditions and lack of care.

If you didn't know, a roadside memorial, or "Krajputaš" is a certain type of monument erected away from the cemetery. The customs of creating such monuments - or the "empty graves" - is spread throughout Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is often located along the roads and at their intersections in order to preserve memory of the deceased.

As for the shape, most of them are a human-sized monolithic stone, in the shape of a square. There are poetic heroic rhymes carved into it, along with the grotesque characters, with a hidden smile on their face, and they are painted with vivid colors. These monuments have a special value since they represent the fallen soldiers, peasants, rebels and passengers. The epitaph is regularly engraved on the monument, usually witty, and it tells us about the deceased for whom the monument was raised. From the 19th century, these monuments were erected to honor the dead warriors whose graves are not known.

The project was very successful, and there are currently more than 2300 images uploaded to Commons. So far, fifty articles have been written in Serbian Wikipedia about the particularly famous monuments, and more are to come.

Unfortunately, there are only pages in Serbian and German about them, but we encourage everyone to help us spread the word about these unique monuments.