University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


Dubrovnik Memorial - Yugoslavian War

Room in Sponza palace, Dubrovnik, Croatia, dedicated to the victims of Serbian shelling of the ancient city (established around the year 700 as Ragusa) during the 1991 Yugoslavian civil war.

The breakup of Yugoslavia, initiated by a complex web of Slobodan Milosevic's speech at Kosovo on June 28, 1989, economic retrenchment, unemployment, national rivalries and 1991 independence declared by Slovenia and Croatia and recognized by Germany and the Vatican, and attempts by Serbia and Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia to stop to devolution process by blocking roads and then declaring Serbian Autonomous areas outside of Serbia proper.

The issues connected with mass violence in the fighting that followed in Yugoslavia and led to Genocide in Srebrenica (Bosnia) has been a contentious issue. Part of this is because during World War II, Serbia was on the side of the Allied Powers (US, Great Britain, France, USSR), while Croatia was led by the Ustashe Regime that was an ally of Nazi Germany and pursued a policy of killing Serbs, Jews and Roma. The situation that began in the 1990s positioned Serbia as the principal perpetrator of violence, although all sides engaged in some level of war crimes.

The Yugoslav army, in an attempt to keep Dubrovnik (Croatia) under Serbian control, attacked the city on October 1, 1991. The BBC reported: "Until 7 December 1991, the Yugoslav army shelled the city, killing at least 43 civilians and injuring many more. The historic Old Town area of the city, mainly built in the 17th Century, was not spared. Despite being a United Nations World Cultural Heritage Site, about 1,000 shells fell on the Old Town district, according to the indictment. Many buildings were damaged or destroyed."

In October 2001, Pavie Strugar, a retired Lieutenant general in the Yugoslav (Serb) army was indicted on 15 counts of violations of the laws or customs of war and one count of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions

On 31 January 2005, Strugar was found guilty and sentenced to eight years in jail by the UCTY Trial Chamber in the Hague for attacks on civilians; destruction or willful damage done to institutions dedicated to religion, charity and education, the arts and sciences, historic monuments and works or art and science, all in relation to JNA's attack on Dubrovnik in 1991. According to the judgment, Strugar had both legal and effective control of the JNA forces who conducted the military action at Dubrovnik, including the shelling of the Old Town of Dubrovnik.

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More information on the Dubrovnik Memorial

For all legal cases relating to war and genocide in former Yugoslavia see:

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