DUBROVNIK, October 1, 2020 — On this day, 29 years ago, the Serbian-Montenegrin attack on Dubrovnik and Southern Croatia began. More than 13,000 members of the Yugoslav army attacked the Dubrovnik area. A traditional ceremony was held Thursday in remembrance of the victims and those who were killed in the siege.
Traditional Ceremony for Siege of Dubrovnik
On Thursday, the people of Dubrovnik are marking the 29th anniversary of the beginning of the Serbian-Montenegrin Siege of Dubrovnik and southern Croatia in the Homeland War – October 1, 1991. They will commemorate the fateful event with the appropriate traditional ceremony ‘Da se ne zaboravi’ or “Let’s not forget”.
The program started at 9:00 CET with the laying of wreaths at the Memorial Cross in the city cemetery Boninovo. At 12:00, wreaths were laid with prayers on the hill Srđ. In memory of those killed at sea, wreaths were laid in the port of Gruž at 18:00. Finally, a Holy Mass for all those killed in the Homeland War was held at 19:00 in the Franciscan Church of the Little Brothers. Due to epidemiological reasons, there was no suitable school program this year.
Poorly Armed and Outnumbered Croatians
On the first day of October 1991, at exactly 6:00, more than 13,000 members of the Yugoslav army (JNA), attacked the area of Dubrovnik and southern Croatia from land, sea and air. Reservists from Serbia and Montenegro assisted the JNA. Among the enemy forces were members of the Užice, Podgorica and Mostar Corps and members of Boka’s 9th Naval Sector. They brought significant air support, and more than 120 heavy artillery weapons, about 100 tanks and 50 armored personnel carriers.
The Croatian forces defending the city of Dubrovnik, 750 in total, were poorly armed. They consisted of members of the Dubrovnik ZNG, the police and volunteers from the Territorial Defense. They opposed the numerous and well-armed military force on defense lines stretching over more than 200 kilometers.
On the first day, Dubrovnik no longer had electricity or water. Aiming at a complete information blockade, the invading forces rocketed the Information Center and the repeater and relay on Srđ. By doing this, they managed to cut off telephone service and damage radio connections. The first grenades fired from JNA cannons and reservists of the Herzegovina Corps, fell on the narrower Dubrovnik area. More specifically, they bombarded the settlements of Bosanka on the hill Srđ and Mokošica.
In the first week of the siege, 27 Dubrovnik veterans and civilians gave their lives and a 100 were wounded.
Vigorous Attacks Destroyed Dubrovnik
Only four days later, on October 5, invading forces captured Konavle and Slano. As a result, they cut off the last land connection with the rest of Croatia. By the end of October, they had advanced towards the entrance of the city where, without electricity, water and regular food supply, 50 thousand people remained. However, brave Dubrovnik defenders managed to prevent the Serbo-Montenegrin troops from entering the city and strengthened the line of defense.
In November and December 1991, Dubrovnik suffered the most difficult days in its centuries-long history. During the vigorous attacks from November 8 to 14 and December 6, on the feast of St. Nicholas, more than five thousand artillery shells fell on the city. On the attack of December 6, more than six of them fell on Dubrovnik’s historic center. Numerous cultural monuments were destroyed. Nine buildings were completely burned, 461 buildings suffered severe damage, and 45 missiles fell on Stradun.
Heavy Toll After the Siege
Throughout the Serbo-Montenegrin siege on the Dubrovnik area, 184 veterans and 92 civilians were killed and more than 1,500 people were wounded. Four hundred twenty-three people were detained in Serbian concentration camps, and more than 33,000 were expelled and had to flee.
In the area from Ston to Konavle, 2127 houses were burned, including protected, and a nearly five hundred-year-old Arboretum in Trsteno. Seven thousand seven hundred seventy-one inhabitants of the Dubrovnik area no longer had a roof over their heads. What had not already been burned and destroyed, was then plundered.
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