This is Tuzla, a small city placed in Northern Bosnia and Herzegovina , it’s my hometown and love of my life. Like a family member Tuzla raises you into a person that you think you could never be. When I was younger I thought that I’m gonna work for UN and help people in Africa, but my mom said that I would be homesick in no time, and I’m pretty sure she was right. I could never be objective when it comes to this city, when you speak or write about the place without racism or nationalism you just can’t tell the story about it without emotions. Time changed everything, but unity of Tuzla stayed untouched. I planned to write about the city center, but I decided to dedicate this first article to people who risked their lives for our existence, so I’ll tell you something about the actual feeling you have when you visit this city, about people, friendship, unity and heroism. In order to do that, i will write about only one part of the city, the park called ‘Slana Banja’ which is not most popular park in the town, but it has a highest number of significant monuments worth to be seen and understood. These are the monuments and memorials you can find in that park:
Memorial of the Partisans
The Partisans were the real army of heroes (they were actually a guerilla but they were also the most effective force of resistance during the World War II ), who didn’t get any money for they participation in the war, they was seeking to keep their families safe, fighting for this city and country, for ideology that says that we all should be free and equal. Tuzla was the largest free territory in Europe in 1943 thanks to these people.
The Statue of Josip Broz Tito
Tito had a lot of different roles on the political scene (General secretary of Communist party, Prime minister, and later the first president of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and he was president for life). Tuzla is still Yugo-nostalgic, and these days, when our political situation is extremely complex, many people from Bosnia and Herzegovina and the whole region feel nostalgic about Tito and his regime. During his life he had a respect from many influential people from all over the world. Nationalism was under the control while he was alive, he surely was a man who supported and respected racial and religious differences.
During that time people also had free social and health insurance and education, Tito was a supporter of equity which is probably the one of the reasons he stayed one of the most popular presidents of the world. One of the most interesting facts about him is that he actually went to the battles with his soldiers while he was a General Secretary of Communist party during a World War II, which means that partisans didn’t fight for his ideals and ideas. He was never hiding behind his partisans and civilians, and he had an extraordinary leadership qualities. His national and foreign awards for his heroism and leadership speak for themselves, and that’s a real proof how brave and honorable man he was.
The Memorial of the Partisans from all over the former Yugoslavia
This monument is closely (and ideologically) connected with the first one, and it looks gorgeous. It represents all the brigades from former Yugoslavia that helped the Partisans from Tuzla to set this territory free, but since it was impossible to write about all of them (in this particular case the article would be so long that it would look like a doctoral dissertation in history), so I just photographed a part where the partisans from Tuzla were mentioned.
The Monument of Soldiers died during the war in 1990s
While reporters from all over the world was saying that the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina was caused by intolerance, pointing out that the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina was a war between the nations, Tuzla had five different nations fighting for this city together, not against each other. It’s a fact that our city wasn’t as damaged as the others in this country because of that unity, and I admit that. Citizens of Tuzla preserved Catholic, Orthodox church and mosques, and everything that represented our multicultural spirit in that time still exist.
The Valley of Youth
The Valley of Youth has a very deep background. In that unhappy times, people of Tuzla shared everything, we shared our living places, food, lives and love. People didn’t care about the nation or religion of their friends. On May 25th 1995 young people went out to the city center to socialize, and 71 of them was killed, and 150 hurt by a grenade. They were buried two days later at 5 a.m., it wasn’t possible to organize a funeral in any other time, because grenades were felling everywhere during the day. Their parents insisted that they should be buried at the same place, and their request defeated all nationalism in the whole region. Today in Tuzla young Muslim, Catholic, Orthodox people are lying under this ground together. They lived, died, and they were buried together, and nothing could separate them. Not then, not now, and especially not here.
These days we still fight, but now it’s a different kind of fight, we fight together for the rights of the lower class and factory workers against corrupted government. Every single day we have a new chance to win. ‘Doing the right thing’ became a lifestyle through a decades, and the spirit and unity of our citizens are literally indestructible. And if you ask yourselves if it’s safe to visit this city, I can tell for sure that citizens of Tuzla are very friendly to tourists and we specially love a nice, adventurous and kind-hearted people and we accept them as one of us.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article, besides the history Tuzla has a lot of cultural statues, art galleries, music and movie festivals, lots of unusual coffee shops and restaurants worth of visiting, and I’ll try to present all of this in my future articles. Thanks for reading!