Thousands of people from the entire region, young and old, flocked to mount Igman near Sarajevo on Saturday to mark the 77th anniversary of the legendary WWII ‘Igman March’ that saved a Partisan unit.
The breakthrough of the 1st Proletarian Brigade through the German siege was made at the night of 27th January 1942 over Igman, the mountain overlooking Sarajevo.
The brigade marched through deep snow as temperatures hit -30 Centigrade. The exhausted soldiers started to fall asleep while walking and began to hallucinate.
However, the unit managed to escape to the eastern town of Foca.
Celebrating the determination, endurance, and discipline of the 1st Proletarian Brigade, participants sang on Saturday Yugoslav Partizan songs and sported symbols that used to unite all of them.
Slobodanka Tomas, who came with from Kikinda, Serbia, said it’s the fourth time she is attending an Igman March anniversary and that she “does not plan to stop.”
“We are anti-fascists and we love this multi-national gathering,” she said, adding that she had “a lot of friends from Zagreb and all other former republics of Yugoslavia here.”
But not only people from former Yugoslav republics were there - a group from the Slovenian minority in Austria also attended the gathering.
“I never thought that we would be travelling 700 kilometres to attend the gathering, but now this energy has caught me and every year there are more and more of us,” said Mojica Koletnik from the Union of Carinthia Partisans, adding that she is also attending the gathering for the fourth time.
“Look how many Slovenians are here! We need to fight. This is a gathering which says that we are anti-fascists, that we are fighting against the ‘fascisation’ which is surrounding us in all of Europe,” said Joze Oprstal from Slovenia.
“The memories bring me here, we want to resurrect all that was and has ended…,” Sahin Spahic from Montenegro said.
Participants marched to Veliko Polje on Igman and laid flowers at a monument dedicated to the 1st Proletarian Brigade.
“Until this past miserable war, this was a tradition every year,” said Nikola Babic, one of the organisers.
He said that two years ago there were 18,000 participants and that this time 20,000 people came.
“After the war, the first commemoration took place in 1996, and it has been taking place since then continuously, with more and more people every year,” he said.
“Death to fascism, freedom to the people!” the participants chanted.