Every time I pass by this place, I get goosebumps. It is one of the most striking reminders of the heroic fight for freedom in World War I which was devastating for Serbia – up to 62% of the male population age between 18-55 lost their lives.
In September 1916, the Serbian army broke through the Salonika front in a battle against the Bulgarian army. This battle was held on Kaimaktsalan, a 2,524m-high peak of the mountain Voras, on the border between Greece and North Macedonia. After almost two years of its army being in exile in Corfu, Serbia managed to regain its independence.
After the victory, soldiers who survived the battle brought stones from the watchtower back to Serbia. This monument, a new watchtower, was erected in today’s Pioneer Park across the National Assembly, which would become the parliament of the newly established Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, later Yugoslavia.
To prevent the soldiers who fought bravely for their homeland to be forgotten, memorial plaques bearing the names of all Serbian commanders who participated in the First World War were placed on the watchtower.
When you come closer, notice that some of the names are written in Cyrillic and some in Latin letters. The motto during Yugoslavia period was “brotherhood and unity”. Based on the principle of national and linguistic equality, Serbian commanders were to be portrayed as Yugoslavs for the commemoration of December 1st, the date when the country, soon to disappear, was established.