You are on page 1of 32

Darko Karačić Miloš Vukanović

INVENTING A NEW COMMUNIST CAPITAL
TITOGRAD IN THE YEARS FOLLOWING WORLD WAR II

The construction of ideological and visual image of the new Montenegrin capital Titograd in the years following after World War II is a showcase of urbanism policies in socialist Yugoslavia. Yugoslav socialist regime decided to construct a new town instead of rebuilding the old town of Podgorica destroyed in World War II, symbolically altering its geography by renaming it to Titograd in 1946. The phenomenon of Titograd and its relation to the memories of the World War II and postWWII is not a unique case, neither in former Yugoslavia, nor in Europe in general. After Podgorica was renamed to Titograd, each of the Yugoslav federal republics and autonomous provinces renamed one of their towns: Titova Mitrovica, Titova Korenica, Titov Veles, Titovo Velenje Titov Vrbas, Titov Drvar and Titovo Užice. This process was widespread in Communist Europe. In Germany Chemnitz was renamed to Karl-Marx-Stadt in 1953. Stalingrad and Leningrad play an important role in Russian remembering of past Communist regime, as well as in remembering the WWII. Hungary had its own Sztalinvaros from 1951 to 1961. Many other European towns went under great changes under the communist regimes, and we believe that the case of Titograd will bring up the issue of questioning not only the importance of monuments and memorials in remembering World War II, but also the importance of newly created cityscapes as sites of remembrance. For analyzing these phenomena we researched on the plans of construction of a new capital of socialist Montenegro in place of a WWII destroyed town, which is the case of the invention of a new urban space, altering both its urban and human geography. New buildings were built fast after the war to illustrate the political and social change; new memorial sites commemorating World War II were constructed; and the old cityscape of Podgorica, the town that preceded Titograd, was almost gone. The construction of Titograd is a great example for critical thinking about the new regime influencing the politics of remembrance towards the pre-WWII regimes that were to be forgotten. For this reason we opted for the analysis of the usage of cityscape as a specific largescale site of remembrance, which is the main method in the project. ~ We would like to thank Iskra Đurid for her valuable support in mentoring the project and in realization of this pdf/internet exhibition.

I. SHORT HISTORICAL OVERVIEW OF PODGORICA

Before World War II

Podgorica is today the biggest town and the capital of Montenegro. It is positioned in the central region of the country, where Zeta and Bjelopavlidi valleys merge. The town is located on the confluence of Morača and Ribnica rivers. This area has been inhabited since the Stone Age, but its urban history starts with the arrival of the Romans in the 2nd century B.C. In that period, in the wider area of the city there were three urban settlements, Doclea, Birziminium and Alata. It is still a subject of argument, which of these three cities had the most profound influence on the formation of the latter medieval settlement. Out from them, Doclea was the most important town, with the biggest population and with a very developed urban planning. After the migration of the Goths and Slavs, as well as a devastating earthquake in the late 6th century, these Roman urban centers died out. In the following centuries there are not many written sources documenting a larger settlement in the location of the present day town. According to an inscription in the church of Saint George in Podgorica a settlement was built in the 10th century, and the first houses on the bank of the river Ribnica were raised by Marko, the Lord of Gorska Župa (District). The first mentioning of the name Podgorica dates back to the 18th of August 1326. The town did not have a greater significance since the second half of the 15th century. Later the town became an important strategic point. Between 1452 and 1455 it was even under the control of the Venetian republic, until the Ottomans finally conquered it the following year. In 1474 on the confluence of Morača and Ribnica rivers, the Ottomans started to build a fort, under which the walls of Ottoman Podgorica developed in the next four centuries, with Ottoman oriental urban planning and architecture. Regardless of frequent uprisings of the surrounding Montenegrin population, the city expanded, using its favorable strategic position for trading activities, so at the beginning of the 17th century Podgorica had around 900 households.

Up: Photographs of Nemanja’s fortress from 1862 and Nemanja’s fortress with the Ottoman bridge on Ribnica River from the 1950s (Milan Pavid and Orle Šabovid, Titograd: Fotomonografija. Zagreb: Agencija za fotodokumentaciju, 1958)

Up: Photographs of the Old Town (Stara Varoš) in Podgorica from 1931 and Ottoman bridge on Ribnica river from the 1950s (Milan Pavid and Orle Šabovid, Titograd: Fotomonografija. Zagreb: Agencija za fotodokumentaciju, 1958)

During the 19th century Montenegrins tried to conquer Podgorica several times. The town became finally a part of the Principality of Montenegro after the Congress of Berlin in 1878. At that time the town had around 1,500 households.

Up: Postcard with the image of Old Town (Stara Varoš) in Podgorica before World War II

Podgorica experienced a flourishing development being a part of the Principality (and from 1910 the part of the Kingdom) of Montenegro. In the Ottoman period the entire town, with the fort, was located on the south bank of the river Ribnica, however after 1886 it started to develop on the north side of this river. The older part of Podgorica became to be known as the Old Town (Stara Varoš), and on the other side of Ribnica river the New Town, known also as Mirko’s town (Nova Varoš; Mirkova Varoš) was built at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. New industrial companies, banks, schools and modern transportation infrastructure were built in that period. The development of the city was stopped firstly by the Balkan Wars and after by the World War I. In the interwar period various different local institutions of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia were located in Podgorica. The town experienced some development in this period, not keeping however the level of pre-World War I development.

Up: Postcard with the image of New Town (Nova Varoš) in Podgorica before World War II Down: The photograph of hotels in the New Town (Nova Varoš) in Podgorica before World War II

The destruction of Podgorica during World War II

Italian bombing, on the 6th of April 1941, marked the beginning of the World War II for the inhabitants of Podgorica. Between the wars the town had over 14,000 inhabitants and it was formed of two parts. The old Ottoman part with a 15th century fort and a new one, which was built in the late 19th and early 20th century, and was constructed in a more Central European style. Eleven days after the first bombs fell on the towns of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the army was in complete surrender and the country was divided between the Axis powers and their allies. Little more than a week after Italians took control over the town, first plans were made for an armed uprising against the occupation. On the 8 th of July 1941, in a village nearby Podgorica, the Regional Committee of the Communist party of Yugoslavia made a decision to start the uprising of the Montenegrin people which started on the 13 th of July. In the first days of the uprising the rebel forces took a series of successful operations in the surroundings of the town. After the arrival of Italian reinforcements from Albania, Podgorica was entrenched and surrounded by barb wire thus turning it in to a camp, while the fights continued in the countryside. The situation remained unchanged after the replacement of Italian troops by the German ones in 1943. The town suffered from the biggest destruction during bombing in 1943 and 1944. It was bombed 72 times, making it one of the most bombed places during the World War II. The most intense bombing of Podgorica happened on the 5th of May 1944. Allied bombers dropped 270 tons of bombs on the town. The attack resulted in four German casualties and approximately 100 killed Chetnik soldiers, while 400 Montenegrin civilians were killed. During this course of bombing a Catholic church, an Orthodox cemetery and the Glavatovid mosque were destroyed. In the main street there were bomb created craters 10 meters in diameter and from 2 to 3 meters in depth. Bombing led to death of more than 2000 citizens and caused a complete destruction of the town. According to some sources, less than a dozen of buildings where left standing. Besides that, it is worth mentioning that 1599 citizens of Podgorica died in the antifascist struggle on different fronts. Partisan units liberated Podgorica on the 19th of December 1944. After the liberation, works started on the revival of the economy of the town, organization of provisions and trade network, opening of schools and traffic communications. After a mass rally was organized in memory of the antifascist uprising of Montenegro on the 13th of July 1946, which was attended

by Josip Broz Tito, the leader of the Yugoslav partisans and the president of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, Podgorica was renamed by the Montenegrin authorities to Titograd.

Up: Photographs of the World War II destroyed Podgorica (Milan Pavid and Orle Šabovid, Titograd: Fotomonografija. Zagreb: Agencija za fotodokumentaciju, 1958; and National museum of Montenegro in Cetinje, Fond: World War II)

II. PODGORICA TRANSFORMED TO TITOGRAD

The construction of Titograd in the first years after World War II
Yugoslav socialist authorities did not just set the goal to rebuild the city, but they also decided to build a new capital of socialist Montenegro. Cetinje was the capital of Montenegro until 1946 with all the governing institutions and the central royal court situated there. All the administrative buildings and housing units had to be built on the ruins of the World War II leveled town of Podgorica. Political plans of the regime did not only change the name and status of Podgorica after the World War II; they changed its urban landscape and visual appearance. The old town of Podgorica was almost completely replaced by the newly constructed Titograd. Before World War II, the town was completely located on the right bank of river Morača, between the hill Gorica to the north and the hill Ljubovid to the south. The city was divided by the river Ribnica. On its south confluence with river Morača stood the 14th century Ottoman fort. Around that fort, on the south bank of Ribnica, there was an Ottoman part of the town, which was named the Old Town (Stara Varoš). Beside the Old Town, on the south side, there were two more Ottoman type neighborhoods, Drpe Mandida and Drač. On the north bank of Ribnica, during the late 19th and early 20th century, a new part of town developed. It was named New Town or Mirko’s Town (Nova Varoš ili Mirkova Varoš). The streets of New Town were designed in a wide, grid structure and their straight lines and right angle corners visually differed very much from narrow curvy streets of the oriental Ottoman parts of Podgorica. Two banks or Ribnica River were connected with a number of small stone bridges. There were no neighborhoods on the West side of the Morača river in prewar Podgorica. There was only a summerhouse of the Montenegrin ruler from the late 19th century, with a couple of buildings which served as a hospital. The banks of Morača river were connected with two bridges. Vezir’s Bridge, somewhat north of the town, which was built in the late 18th century, and a new steel bridge, closer to the town center from the 1930s.

The level of devastation of Podgorica during the World War II was large. The most severe destruction was in the New Town where the majority of modern buildings were devastated. Besides that, both bridges across Morača were destroyed. Out of all the formidable buildings only the Ottoman clock tower and the building of Gymnasium stood intact. The Town hall was damaged and the reconstruction that was done soon after World War II slightly changed its visual appearance.

Up: Photograph of the first stage of the reconstruction of Podgorica from 1945 showing the level of town’s destruction (Milan-Mišo Brajovid, Stara Podgorica, Podgorica: Kulturno-prosvjetna zajednica, 2002)

The city of Podgorica spread across the North-South line between the hills of Gorica and Ljubovid before World War II. The first urban planning new authorities made were to change this starting with the construction of the new bridge across Morača river in 1949, and with building new boulevard which connected the two banks. The boulevard spread from East to West, and next to it the buildings of new institutions were built. The main phase of the town’s expansion in the 1960s and 1970s followed on, affecting until then undeveloped side of the river Morača. By 1955, via the new boulevard, which was named Lenin’s, besides the institutional buildings, a post office, galleries, financial institutions and the main hotel were

constructed. The first building constructed on the West bank of Morača River was the Police headquarters. The system of the New Town grid structure of the streets was copied later in the town planning on the West bank of Morača River. That quarter of Titograd was named Novi Grad (not to be confused with Nova Varoš, translated in this text as the New Town). Some other institutional buildings were constructed on the Lenin’s Boulevard too. The grid structure of the New Town has been preserved until today, and this part of town is considered to be the urban center of Titograd. Most of today standing buildings in the New Town were newly constructed after the World War II, with a minor number of them being reconstructed in their original style. The south part of the New Town, which was considered to be the wealthiest and most beautiful part of the city before the war, suffered from the highest level of devastation and was never reconstructed. In the same location the new boulevard, buildings of institutions and parks where built. The first resident buildings were constructed there by the German POWs. They predominantly served as the living blocks for the new administration which came to live and work in Titograd. No matter of all the new constructions, the location of the main pre-World War II town square has been preserved until today with minor changes. Pre-WWII main commercial centre, which was situated at Njegoš’s street moved to the nearby Freedom Street (Ulica Slobode) after World War II. This happened because the Freedom Street was the starting point of a new boulevard which headed south, over a newly constructed concrete bridge over the river Ribnica. This new southern boulevard went through the heart of the Old Town, and gave the first impulse in its destruction after World War II bombings. The second step was initiated with the construction of the railway station, and the second north-south boulevard through Drpe Mandida and Drač neighborhoods, which went parallel with the first one. These two boulevards where eventually surrounded by residential buildings. Thus, only the small isolated oriental Ottoman urban landscape zones remained between the blocks as the constructions continued in Titograd during the period of socialist regime. The medieval fort, destroyed in the World War II bombings, was never restored. The construction of a new railway station followed the building of a new railway line from Titograd to other Montenegrin town of Nikšid. This was one of the biggest constructions of this period; however, it caused a devastation of the archeological remains of the Roman city of Doclea, over which the new railway line passed.

Up: The photographs of Njegoš’s street before WWII, at its end, and after the war

Up: Map of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, including the borders of six socialist republics, two autonomous provinces, and their capitals

Up: A part of the map of Titograd from 1988 showing the central quarters of the Montenegrin capital (Karta Titograda, Ljubljana: Geodetski zavod SRS Ljubljana - Turistički savez Titograd, 1988)

Urban development and Yugoslav socialist regime

“Death to fascism – Freedom to the people!

POBJEDA
Agency of the National front of Montenegro Number 27 Cetinje, 13 July 1946 Year III

July 13 – Montenegrin people’s holiday

Marshal Tito in Montenegro

Over 10,000 people welcomed Marshal Tito in Podgorica”…

Up: The newspaper article about the visit of Yugoslav president Josip Broz Tito to Montenegro, 11 and 12 July 1946. Although Podgorica is still mentioned in the text, the official initiative of changing its name to Titovgrad was formed at the time of Tito’s arrival to the town. Town was named Titograd soon after that. (Pobjeda, 13.07.1946, cover page)

Left: The photograph of Tito in Podgorica, July 1946. (http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t =868232&page=7, used: 20.09.2012)

“Death to fascism – Freedom to the people!

POBJEDA
Agency of the National front of Montenegro Number 30 Cetinje, 28 July 1946 Year III

PODGORICA – TITOVGRAD NEW TITOVGRAD WILL FOURISH ON THE RUINS OF PODGORICA Presidency of the National assembly of the People’s Republic of Montenegro passed the Act of changing the name of the town of Podgorica by which it gets the name of Titovgrad, fulfilling this way desire of the whole nation of Montenegro and honoring the creator and leader of the new state of our unitary nations. The suggestion for this change of the name came from the National assembly of the town Podgorica as a faithful interpretation of desire and determination of people living in town and in its surroundings, and as an expression of love of the Montenegrin people for the name and work of the leader of our nations…

The Act of changing the name of the town of Podgorica to Titovgrad Giving the expression of love of the Montenegrin people towards the Leader of our nations; Acknowledging the leader of national upraising, the creator and leader of our new state Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia; Fulfilling the desire of the whole nation of Montenegro, especially the desire of the town and canton of Podgorica; On suggestion of the National assembly of town Podgorica from 13 July 1946 to rename Podgorica to Titovgrad… PRESIDENCY OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF MONTENEGRO Passes: THE ACT of changing the name of the town of Podgorica to TITOVGRAD”…

“Active efforts of the workers and

managers on the bridge of Morača in Titograd will be crowned with a total success
The works on the bridge over Morača River, the greatest and the most important construction work in Titograd, develop very well. Working efforts of this large working company will soon end with a total success and a great working victory due to a proper organization of the work… ”

Left: One of many articles published about building the bridge of Morača in the official newspapers of the People’s Republic of Montenegro Pobjeda in 1947. The bridge of Morača was one of the largest constructions in Titograd in the first years after World War II, and was used excessively in the official printed media in Montenegro to present the development of urban infrastructure. (Pobjeda, 11.10.1947, p.3.)

“WITH THE CONSTRUCTORS OF TITOGRAD…

Titograd, November - Although November, it is not the end of the construction season yet. We are building Titograd, and that requires persistence and decision to make all the jobs done the way it was planned. That is the obligation for all of us, for each worker – it was written in all the hearts. It is, therefore, no wonder that the works do not cease…

It is not a single man, it is not several of them, but it is all the people that participate in the construction of Titograd. All of them, from a small child to an old man, can be rightfully named the constructors of the capital of our Republic. It is hard to enumerate even the most important works they do because there have been hundreds of them, and there are more and more of them every day. Their works are growing into the new streets and buildings which are gaining new inhabitants, and speak the best about them”.

Left: An article from the newspapers Pobjeda promoting the builders of Titograd in 1948. A special care was given to naming individual workers, and to their individual and group achievements which were mentioned in the text. However, the article ends with the information that it was not only them who construct Titograd, but that the whole nation does it together, what was the usual propaganda used for massive promotion of new socialist values. (Pobjeda, 29.11.1948, p.3.)

„TITOGRAD
Podgorica was a revolutionary center of the advanced antifascist organizations even before the war. They kept deservingly the rights and the honor of working class even in the heaviest moments, being faithful to their great traditions. Communist party and the fighting youth of Podgorica and town’s surrounding were the avangard of the revolutionary movement of Montenegro, being inspired by the great Leninist-Stalinist ideas… O, how Titograd changes its visage. No more it is the town tightened by the river beds of Morača and Ribnica in which the skeletons of the buildings stand gruesomely empty in the place where love and youth flourished times ago. It is a new socialist town in which the formerly restricted man’s forces are deliberated. Titograd is full of creative energy that transforms it to a great economic and cultural center of Montenegro… We construct Titograd Thousands of hardworking hands Build a new town. Town which bears the name of Tito Now flourishes and overgrows… Titograd, 1949. Nikola Aleksić, 4thgrade high school student”.

Up: The newspaper article promoting the construction of Titograd in 1949. The author of this article presented how the advancing construction of Titograd correlates to the town’s Communist past and present. A poem written by a high school student about the construction of Titograd, mentioning the origin of the town’s name, accompanied the article. This served an additional propaganda about youth promoting ideas and values of the new regime. (Pobjeda, 01.05.1949, p.6)

“TITOGRAD GROWS INTO THE
CENTER OF OUR REPUBLIC
'Podgorica is destroyed – we will build it all together because it is our duty, and because all the victims Podgorica gave demand it from us. We will do it, and I promise you that in the name of the Federal government'. (Marshal Tito short before 13 July 1946 in Podgorica) Under the hill of Gorica one can see two towns from the window of train driving from Nikšid to Titograd. One of these towns existed some time ago and languished, finally becoming a ruin. That was Podgorica which was destroyed in the war. The second town is new and young, enclosed by construction scaffolds, cut with wide and straight boulevards. It grows fast into a great living monument worth of Tito’s time in which it is being built… People from Podgorica were showing Stara Varoš to tourists with abashment before the war. Houses, better say huts, were low constructions and dark in that area. One whole block of such buildings can be found nearby Ribnica even today. Titograd people will not be ashamed of this part of the town in foreseeable period. New buildings infiltrate to this part of town through the wide ferroconcrete bridge. Ruins and dark buildings will disappear. Only the ruins of Nemanja’s fortress and the old clock tower will remain standing as monument of the past times next to the blocks of flats, constructed according to the excellent town-planning regulations… Hundreds of workers walk on Nemanja’s river bank street, the bank street of the river of Morača, Njegoš’s street and Freedom Street. Radio Titograd transmission is awaited on the town’s square to be heard through the loudspeakers. The evening show starts. Speaker is telling us about the construction of Titograd and about the new conditions in the Republic ”…

Up: The newspaper article reporting the construction of Titograd in 1949. The completely negative image of the old Podgorica was spread in the text of the article along with the positive promotion of the new constructions of Titograd. The article praises the plans of destruction of the old parts of town, and ends with the information on the current propaganda promoting the constructions in Titograd. (Pobjeda, 12.05.1949, p.3.)

“TITOGRAD IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION

'O, Central committee, we refuse all the slanders…' – the front brigades sing”…

Left: The newspapers article reporting about the constructions developing in Titograd. The text includes a report on the lives of volunteer builders during their working day, while they sing the songs about political and ideological issues. (Pobjeda, 19.07.1949, cover page)

“TITOGRAD GROWS INTO A GREAT SOCIALIST TOWN”

(Pobjeda, 24.07.1949, p.3.)

“TITOGRAD – FIRST PRODUCT OF THE

FIVE YEAR PLAN
DEVELOPS INTO A GREAT TOWN WORTH OF TITO’S EPOCH”
(Pobjeda, 07.08.1949, p.3.)

Up: A newspapers article about the role of Titograd antifascist women in the construction of the Montenegrin capital. (Pobjeda, 21.01.1950, cover page)

Right: Article about an exhibition of war photographs and postwar constructions from 1941 to 1951, organized in the House of Yugoslav Army in Titograd in 1951. The aim of the exhibition was to promote the successes of the Communist party during and after World War II. (Pobjeda, 12.07.1951, p.2)

“President of the Government of the

People’s Republic of Montenegro Blažo Jovanovid awarded the most distinguished constructors of Titograd
While receiving the awards, the rewarded workers promised they will continue working hard in constructing our country and the town that got Tito’s name”…

(Pobjeda, 26.05.1951, cover page)

Up Left: Article mentioning the start of construction of the Monument of partisan fighter on the top of Gorica hill nearby Titograd in 1951. The Monument and the attached memorial landscape area were built throughout the 1950s. (Pobjeda, 06.05.1951, cover page) Up Right: Photograph of the Monument of partisan fighter on Gorica hill from 1958. (Milan Pavić and Orle Šabović, Titograd: Fotomonografija. Zagreb: Agencija za fotodokumentaciju, 1958) Down: Article reporting unveiling the bust of a partisan and national hero of Yugoslavia Ivan Milutinović in Titograd in 1954 (Pobjeda, 24.10.1954, p.15)

Up: The official urbanistic plan of Titograd from the 1950s, according to which all of the pre-World War II quarters of the town were planned to be destroyed, and replaced by new blocks of buildings. This plan was not fully realized, some areas with the pre-World War II architecture remained standing. This plan was soon exchanged with a new urbanistic plan. (Milan Pavić and Orle Šabović, Titograd: Fotomonografija. Zagreb: Agencija za fotodokumentaciju, 1958)

Up: Photographs of administrative buildings, living blocks, a hotel, and the bridges constructed from WWII to the end of 1950s (Milan Pavić and Orle Šabović, Titograd: Fotomonografija. Zagreb: Agencija za fotodokumentaciju, 1958)

III. USAGE OF THE IMAGE OF TITOGRAD IN SOCIALIST YUGOSLAVIA

Up: The cover page of a book promoting Titograd in the late 1950s (Milan Pavid and Orle Šabovid, Titograd: Fotomonografija. Zagreb: Agencija za fotodokumentaciju, 1958). This was the main publication promoting Titograd in the first decades after World War II.

Postcards of Titograd from the 1950s to the 1980s
Photographs used for creating the postcards in this period promoted the parts of Titograd constructed during the socialist regime of Yugoslavia, very often including the Monument of partisan fighter on the hill of Gorica as the main place of World War II memory in the town, as well as some administrative buildings of the Socialist Republic of Montenegro, bridge over the river of Morača, and Nemanjina obala boulevard, all being constructed in the first two decades after WWII. In that way the memory of the pre-World War II town of Podgorica with its architecture was neglected and left to oblivion.

Postcards of Titograd from the 1950s to the 1980s II

Postcards of Titograd from the 1950s to the 1980s III

Titograd on the post stamp from 1965

Up: An example of a stamp issued in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1965, showing the part of Titograd with the bridge of Morača and administrative buildings, constructed in the late 1940s and early 1950s. This is one of a set of six stamps commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the liberation of Yugoslavia in World War II.

Titograd in the school textbook from 1983

Up: Titograd presentation in the school textbook Moja domovina: SFR Jugoslavija (My homeland: Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) from 1983. Tasks for students were listed under the photography depicting the modern part of Titograd: “The capital of the Socialist Republic of Montenegro is Titograd. According to whom did it get its name? According to this photograph, is Titograd a newer or an old town? Prove your answer with the evidence you see on the photograph”. The aim of presenting this photograph of Titograd accompanied by the tasks for students was to create the image of Titograd as a completely new town that is marked by its modern architecture and by the name of Yugoslav president Josip Broz Tito.