Stevan Filipović Monument – one of the symbols of Valjevo
What is Stevan Filipović famous for worldwide and what did he do to be listed among great men whose photo is kept in the United Nations?
Stjepan – Stevo Filipović (1916–1942), a revolutionary and a fighter against fascism, was hanged in the center of Valjevo in 1942. The life-sized photo of his hanging, with his arms raised and clenched fists, the symbol of the fight against fascism, was placed at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York.
Indian statesman Nehru knelt in front of this photo paying respect to the young hero and said: “What kind of morality under the noose. This man has pushed the boundaries of death. “
Monument – simbol of the city
The photo served as inspiration to sculptor Vojin Bakić to make a magnificent statue on Vidrak hill above Valjevo, one of the symbols of the city.
When the Civil War broke out and the breakup of SFRY started in the beginning of the 1990’s, this monument also became a target. The bust in the city center, put up where the heroic hanging took place, was destroyed a couple of times in the period from 1991 until 1994, so the local authorities were forced to place it in a utility company storeroom.
The majority of the citizens of Valjevo were offended when they saw inappropriate inscriptions and swastikas both on the bust and the statue. Stevan’s fellow soldiers thought about organizing a watch so as to prevent vandals from realizing their unreasonable intention.
Stevan’s bad luck continued even in his hometown, Opuzen. During the night between 17th and 18th July 1991, a monument of the hero below the gallows, the work of sculptors Miro Vuca and Stjepan Gračan, was blown up. The people who committed this crime were never accused, even though the locals knew who they were. The monument has not been reconstructed to this day.
Luckily, passions simmered down and today young citizens of Valjevo more often meet for a date precisely here, next to the monument of Stevan Filipović, with no spray or ambition to demolish the statue of the hero.
Stevan Stjepan Filipović was one of Ante Filipovića’s five children from Opuzen, Croatia. Having completed the second grade he leaves Men Civil School in Mostar. He comes to Valjevo from Kragujevac Technical Military Institute in 1940, where he soon gets involved in illegal party work. He makes progress quickly, gains trust of his fellow soldiers and builds reputation among them, so before his arrest and execution he manages to become the Partisan commander of the Pocerski Battalion.
The book Stevan Filipović
The life and work of Stevan (Stjepan, Stipan, Steva) Filipović are described in the book Stevan Filipović: The Truth about the Historic Photo published in Belgrade in 2012. It describes the making of this historic photo, its author whose identity has been surrounded with a veil of secrecy for decades, a set of data about the young hero who became the symbol of resistance, defiance and the fight for freedom. The book contains 78 photos which show some rare pictures from the life of Stevan Filipović, the documents from the archive, memorials, records, artworks and exclusive photos of the witnesses to the hanging took in Valjevo on 22nd May 1942.
At some other, heroic time, the legends about him would live on, the stories would be told, but our time of rifts and narrow-mindedness forgets its heroes easily. In order to appreciate and use appropriately what we have, we have to remember, from time to time, the history of our town and our people…
Photos:Open Minded Fest end Politikin zabavnik
Translation: Marija Djurdjevic