Hundreds of bizarre futuristic monuments appear out of place jutting from the varied landscape of the former Yugoslavia—ghostlike echoes of a country that no longer exists. Stretching from present-day Croatia and Slovenia bordering the Adriatic coast, through the jagged peaks of Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, until sloping down into Serbia and Macedonia, the bold abstract artworks built during the 1960s and 1970s were intended to spread their country’s ideals and values to the masses across all the land.
To understand what these relics of the past mean today, photographer Sylvain Heraud traveled to the republics that emerged from the dissolution of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
This large winged sculpture in Podgaric, Croatia, holds a crypt with the remains of hundreds of Partisan soldiers who died while being treated at nearby hospitals.
The Serbian uprising against the Ustase militia on Petrova Gora mountain in Croatia is honored by a monument that’s 12 stories tall.
Three fists represent the Serbian, Jewish, and Roma victims killed at this site near Nis, Serbia, by Nazi occupiers from early 1942 to late 1944.
This monument for the victims of the Battle of the Sutjeska in Bosnia and Herzegovina took about seven years to complete.
Partisans gathered here on Kosmaj Mountain in 1941 to plan their battles against occupying Axis forces.
Underneath this monument on Freedom Hill in Ilirska Bistrica, Slovenia, is a crypt which contains the remains of 284 fallen fighters from the Yugoslavian Army who liberated this area during World War Two.
Sitting on a high peak in Bosnia and Herzegovina, this monument remembers the fierce battle when thousands of Partisan fighters and predominately Serbian civilians were killed or deported to Ustase concentration camps during the summer of 1942.
Three monoliths evoking a gun barrel honor a confrontation in 1941 between Partisans and Germans in Stulac, Serbia.
About three hundred desperate Serbian peasants, armed only with pitchforks, died attacking members of the Ustase militia in 1942 at the top of this mountain in Novo Selo Palanjecko, Croatia.
Engraved with the names of the 62 fallen Partisan soldiers, this monument complex stands over a crypt in Vogosca, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Many of the men who died here in Sinj, Croatia, were members of the Worker’s Football Club of Split.
Meant to symbolize a budding flower, this monument commemorates the hospital and medical staff that cared for the wounded Partisan soldiers in Korcanica, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In Kragujevac, Serbia, hundreds of students and teachers were killed by German troops in October of 1941.
Source: National Geographic