12 April 1994

Doc. 7070


on war damage to the cultural heritage in Croatia

and Bosnia-Herzegovina1

presented by the Committee on Culture and Education2


1.       War damage to the museums, galleries and collections in the Republic of Croatia

      Report by the International Council of Museums (ICOM) (February 1994)        2

2.       Report on a fact-finding mission in March 1994

      by Dr Colin Kaiser (consultant expert)        31

3.       Further reactions following the destruction of the Old Bridge of Mostar       51



International Council of Museums

February 1994


I. Introduction

II. Overview of Museums and Galleries in the Republic of Croatia

      a) Number, Profile, Period of Foundation

      b) The Museum Administration, Related Institutions, Museum Staff and Training

III. Overview of War Damage

a) Direct Damage and Losses according to Croatian Sources

i) Geographical Breakdown

ii) Type of Direct Damage and Most Serious Losses

iii) The Situation in Areas that are still occupied by               Serbian Forces

b) Damage from Evacuation and Storage

c) Risk of Theft in Evacuated and Unevacuated Collections

d) Conclusions to Overview on War Damage

IV. The Condition of Individual Collections

V. Conclusions and recommendations

a) The Deterioration of Collections in Croatian territory

b) The Situation of Collections in Occupied Territories and outside of Croatian Territory

c) Illicit Traffic and Security of Collections

d) The Role of Museum Professionals in Croatia

e) The Role of the International Community


1) The Museum of Slavonia

2) Letter from Dr. Meder on Illicit Export and Sale of Croatian Works of Art

3) Priority Needs in Materials

I. Introduction

This report is based on a fact-finding mission carried out for the International Council on Museums (ICOM) by Barbara O. Roberts, consultant conservator-restorer and member of ICOM, in the Republic of Croatia over a period of three weeks (9 - 29 October 1993).

This mission was requested by members of ICOM, and especially by the Croatian members, including those belonging to the Museum Documentation Centre (Zagreb), and also by Unesco. The mission was made as part of a contract with the Getty

Conservation Institute.

The purpose of the mission was to ascertain, within the time limit available, the degree of damage to the museums, galleries and collections of Croatia caused by the 1991 - 1993 war, and to identify the priority needs of these institutions arising from the war situation.

The consultant enjoyed the full support of the national and local cultural authorities of Croatia, particularly from the Museum Documentation Centre (hereafter referred to as MDC), which organised visits to some 22 museums and galleries in the regions controlled by the Croatian government. The United Nations was approached for permission to have access to institutions in the zones in which the United Nations Protection Forces (UNPROFOR) are stationed (coinciding approximately with areas occupied by Serbian forces), and to which Croatian nationals have no access, but this was refused.

II. Overview of Museums and Galleries in the Republic of Croatia

a) Number, Profile, Period of Foundation

The 1993 edition of Museums and Galleries of Croatia, a handbook published by the Ministry of Culture and Education, describes some 205 museums, galleries and collections, private and public, in Croatia, containing over 5,000,000 cultural objects (however, the total museum network would seem to count some 143 such institutions and 86 branch collections, according to information from MDC).

These may be broken down into the following categories:

Archaeological Museums:       15

Ethnographical Museums:       11

Local, Municipal and

Regional History Museums:       69

Specialised Museums:       50

(Biographical:       15

Commemorative:              7

History:              5

Maritime History:              6

Technology, Industry and Agriculture:       4

Natural History and Zoology:        6

Miscellaneous:              7

Church Collections of Art:       20

Other Art Galleries:       40

Certain areas are important museum centres - Zagreb (21 museums and galleries), Split (10) and Dubrovnik (8).

Nine of the archaeological museums, most of them on the Adriatic coast, were founded before World War I - the Split Archaeological Museum dates back to 1820. The precocity in creations on the coast (the earliest Croatian town museum was established in Dubrovnik in 1872) is, however, rivalled by the numerous early museums of Zagreb (Archaeological Museum 1846, Croatian History Museum 1846, Theatre Museum Collection, 1840, etc.). The period of the Yugoslavian monarchy (1918 - 1941) was characterised by an effort to encourage municipal and regional museums (Slavonska Pozega 1924, Sibenik 1925, Varazdin 1925, Slavonski Brod 1934).

World War II was a watershed in the foundation of Croatian museums and galleries: according to dates of creation contained in the handbook mentioned above, from 1800 until the occupation of the country by the forces of the Third Reich in 1941 39 museums, galleries and collections were established; from the beginning of the People's Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1945 until the independence of Croatia in 1991 154 were opened- virtually all the church collections, 57 local, municipal and regional history museums (the differences between these three categories are not always apparent; moreover, they share a tendency to mixed collections), 42 of the specialised museums (half of them biographical or commemorating the Resistance and other historical events of special importance to the regime), and 32 of the art galleries.

This vast inflation continued apace even during the serious economic difficulties of the 1980s, and the young republic inherited an insufficiently funded and understaffed museum structure, and the war has worsened the situation.

b) The Museum Administration, Related Institutions, Museum Staff and Training

With the exception of church collections virtually all museums and galleries are public owned and financed, and are under the authority of the Ministry of Culture and Education. In reality the traditions of decentralisation have created a multiplicity of authorities: in some places local museums are under the administration of regional museums, others depend upon special administrative structures (for example the Brijuni National Park and Memorial Reserve) or bodies (the Mestrovic galleries are under the authority of the Mestrovic Foundation, some museums and galleries are under the Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences), while many of the local history museums are under the jurisdiction of local antennae of the Ministry of Culture and Education (commonly Community Education Centres).

At the moment of finalisation of this report the Ministry was in the process of deciding which cultural authorities (national, regional, local) would have jurisdiction over which cultural institutions, including museums and galleries. A draft law on museums will be presented for the session of the Croatian Parliament in May 1994.

One of the most important national bodies with responsibilities over museums and galleries is the MDC, created in 1955, which has two main functions - to advance museum activities (programming and renovation, public relations, consultancy vis-à-vis these institutions) and to collect information on the collections. The vital records it has built up over the years are of great importance in the context of the war (assessment of damage to collections, counteraction against dispersal and eventual illicit trading in museum artefacts). MDC has also been one of the key institutions in museum training since 1986 (annual seminars of 7 to 10 days for museum staff, assuring the dissemination of experience from Croatian and foreign professionals - a notable foreign partner for 1994 will be the Scottish Museum Council).

The National, Regional and Local Institutes for the Protection of Cultural Monuments supervise implementation of conservation measures concerning the historic buildings that often house museum and gallery collections; moreover, during the war period they have cooperated closely with the MDC and individual museums and galleries for evacuation and storage of collections and other movable cultural property and for evaluations of damage of the buildings.

The Institute for Restoration, located in Zagreb, is the central restoration centre for the country, with a total staff of 60, including architects, archivists, art historians and restorers (15, of which 3 or 4 have undergone training abroad). A second Institute for Restoration in Zagreb is devoted to movable heritage: it has 4 sculpture restorers, 8 painting restorers and an art historian. There are other small workshops in Split and Zadar. Since these institutes and workshops cannot presently fulfil all needs - those provoked by the war as well as the chronic lack of specialised staff, a painting restoration centre with funding and instruction supported by the Arch Foundation of Lugano, has been set up in Dubrovnik, while it is hoped that a Bavarian-funded project for restoration of polychrome sculpture at the Chateau of Ludberg (in Slavonia) will be a first step to setting up a full scale conservation centre for this region. The Arch Foundation has also been active in specialised courses in documentation for restorers and conservators (November 1992).

The Institute for Restoration was extremely active in northern Croatia in packing and evacuation of collections during the war.

Museums and galleries employ 1,184 staff members, of which 515 are professionals in the field (450 curators, 65 restorers, etc.). Salaries are in keeping with wage levels of the former regime (and are generally low for the state cultural administration).

The Department for Museology of the Faculty of the Philosophy of the University of Zagreb has assured basic and permanent four year training for students since 1988 (although there have been courses in museology at this University since 1950, and a Post-Graduate Course since 1968).

III. Overview of War Damage

a) Direct Damage and Losses according to Croatian Sources

i) Geographical Breakdown

As of January 1993, 44 museums, galleries and collection- about 20% of the total- were known to have sustained varying degrees of direct damage to buildings and/or collections. By the end of 1993 this figure had risen to 47, according to the MDC.

However, these figures could be higher. It seems that there are 8 museums and galleries in occupied territory about which the MDC has little or no information (the 17 collections in these territories contain 200,000 items).

The geographical breakdown of damage for the 44 institutions is as follows:

Eastern Croatia (Slavonia):       19 (5 in occupied areas)

Central Croatia (Karlovac, Zagreb):       12 (1 in occupied area)

Mountain Croatia (Lika):       1 (in occupied area)

Dalmatian Croatia

(Zadar to Dubrovnik):       12 (1 in occupied area)

ii) Type of Direct Damage and Most Serious Losses

The buildings of 43 of these institutions were damaged to varying degrees by artillery fire (and, in the case of the Museum of the Ljubljana and Zagreb Eparchy in Zagreb, by a bomb in April 1992). Although it was impossible for the ICOM consultant to determine if the Hague Convention flag were displayed on all buildings, those showing it in Dubrovnik (confirmed by the Unesco observer mission of November-December 1991) were not spared by Serbian artillery fire. Yet it is not possible to determine from the handbook the exact degree of damage for most of the buildings.

Relatively few collections (13) sustained direct damage: this is testimony to the remarkable effort of evacuation (a total of about 15,000 pieces) and storage by cultural authorities, the military and volunteers in a period of great danger, and sometimes in local conditions bordering on anarchy. It should be recalled that it was also often necessary to leave larger pieces in situ. Slight damage was done to immovable items (the train at Belisce Museum, the Roman sarcophagi in the Lapidarium of the Museum of Slavonia), and to the art collections of the Franciscan Monastery in Dubrovnik and the Zadar Regional Museum (half a dozen etchings and lithographs on loan to the University)).

The worst confirmed losses, to buildings and to collections, occurred in occupied areas. While most of the ethnographical collection of the Konavle Museum at Cilipi was evacuated, the furniture remaining in the two museum buildings was burned when the village was torched in late 1991. Twenty-five works of sculpture and seven paintings by Ivan Mestrovic were removed from the Drniska Krajina Museum in Drnis, and the weapons collection (19th and 20th century) in the Ribar Family Memorial Collection at Vukmanic was looted (and the remaining memorabilia thought to have been destroyed).

However, the most terrible losses to Croatian museums and galleries occurred in Vukovar: the Bauer Collection (1,357 Croatian paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries), the Vukovar Municipal Museum (32,513 items from prehistoric times until the first half of the 20th century), the History Museum (containing original documents pertaining to the history of the labour movement and the Communist Party of Yugoslavia), and the Ruzicka Memorial Museum (memorabilia of the winner of the 1939 Nobel Prize for chemistry). The buildings housing the last three collections- the Eltz Manor (1749), the Worker's Hall and the Ruzicka house- were all listed as national monuments, and were heavily damaged and even razed, according to Croatian sources.

The entire Bauer Collection and the contents of the Fine Arts Gallery were stored elsewhere in Vukovar, and were later removed to Serbia, as were the collections of the History Museum. It seems that only selected items were evacuated from the Ruzicka Museum and the Municipal Museum to other parts of the city, and that parts of these collections were either looted or destroyed, the rest being taken to Serbia.

The Ministry of Culture and Education of Croatia and MDC have informed Unesco and ICOM in order to secure the return of these collections. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has also written to Belgrade authorities; however, if the latter seem willing to allow Unesco to examine the depots, they will not allow them back into Croatia.

In addition to the problem of restitution, Croatian authorities are worried about the condition in which the collections are kept, and especially about the possibility of objects being sold abroad (Dr. Ferdinand Meder, the Director of the National Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments, has written to ICOM about this, and his letter is produced in annex). A small number of objects were exhibited in Paris in 1992 by the Yugoslavian Cultural Centre ("Vukovar en 1991, Genocide du Patrimoine Culturel du Peuple Serbe"), but are apparently in a UN depot. MDC, which has inventories for Vukovar, has provided information to INTERPOL.

It was also brought to the attention of the ICOM consultant that there was no news of Professor Petrovic, art historian of Vukovar.

iii) The Situation in Areas that are still occupied by Serbian forces

The demonstrated "worst damage pattern" that arose in occupied territories renders comprehensible the fears of Croatian cultural authorities for the remaining collections.

However, a Croatian curator from the Ilok Municipal Museum told the ICOM consultant "as far as he is aware nothing has been removed from the museum and it is open to the public". Moreover, initial vandalising of the Konavle collections in 1991 was halted by the local Serbian commander, who had them put under lock and key; after withdrawal of the Federal forces in October 1992 the collection was found to be "virtually intact". Yet, in the absence of information and in the light of the cases discussed in preceding paragraphs, these individual cases cannot be presented as reflections of the norm.

The information gap could be filled if the international organisations on the spot cooperated in verifying the situation of movable heritage, and such verification would constitute an element of protection. In the case of the Karlovac Municipal Museum depot in occupied territory the Civilian Police of the UNPROFOR provided information and kept an eye on collections for awhile, but the consultant was told that this cooperation broke down.

b) Damage from Evacuation and Storage

The consultant observed that, despite the success in removing a great many public collections from the danger of artillery fire and seizure by occupying forces, evacuation and subsequent storage posed serious threats to museum and gallery items. In many cases the depots did not present adequate conditions of security and conservation, and some collections were moved several times.

The National Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments estimates that about 6,000 crates of evacuated objects are stored in 30 small "safe storage" depots and in 14 larger official ones. Of the latter only two or three have satisfactory climate, insect and rodent control. About 10 other depots for private collections have been identified, but the conditions of storage are very poor. Church property has sometimes been deposited with the state. A system for supervision of the state collections exists, but checking is visual and generally speaking, limited.

It must also be pointed out that many objects have been stored in the regular reserves of the institution concerned and that often the conditions of this storage are unsatisfactory, essentially because they are tightly packed.

Given the limited degree of verification of evacuated and stored collections (the consultant also witnessed the difficulty of carrying out such checking) it is difficult to evaluate the damage to the collections. However it cannot be excluded that the percentage of damage is extremely high, especially for textiles.

c) Risk of Theft in Evacuated and Unevacuated Collections

Clearly there is risk of some evacuated materials disappearing. Moreover, the scarcity of guardians due to mobilisation of manpower for the war effort and the virtual non-existence of alarm systems for functioning museums and galleries pose a genuine problem for collections.

d) Conclusions to Overview on War Damage

Direct damage from war action has been less serious than what might be imagined, thanks to evacuation and storage on the spot. However, there have been striking cases of requisitioning of collections by Serbian forces, not to mention possible outright looting, and the situation in the occupied regions is still obscure. The danger that also has also arisen is dispersal of some of these collections through illicit exportation. Paradoxically however, the worst damage to Croatian collections has probably occurred through inadequate storage and attention following evacuation. This last category of problems will be better understood in the detailed examination carried out by the consultant of 22 museums and galleries.

IV. The Condition of Individual Collections

During her three-week mission the ICOM consultant could visit only a cross-section of Croatian museums and galleries. Time was lost travelling, there were also problems of accessibility to the collections themselves, which makes evaluations problematic. The consultant visited 4 museums and galleries in Zagreb, 7 in Dubrovnik and 2 in Cavtat, 2 museums and galleries in Osijek, and 1 museum in each of the following locations: Belisce, Cakovec, Dakovo, Karlovac, Valpovo, Varazdin, Vinkovci. In other words, all regions of unoccupied Croatia were visited with the exception of Northern Dalmatia and the unoccupied areas bordering the western Krajina. For each location the consultant completed a form, from which have been extracted basic information on the institution and its collection, relevant information regarding direct and indirect war damage, as well as the consultant's remarks. The institutions are given below in alphabetical order according to location.


Belisce Museum

Tvornicki Pojas 1, 54551 Belisce, tel: 54-183-111, ext. 215

Contact: Mrs. Zdenka Frajtag, Director

Staff: 1 curatorial

Date of Foundation: 1971

Building: 1

Present Condition of Building: good; a new gallery has been proposed in bombed out factory owner's house but will require major work Collection: 2,206 industrial items, 150 pieces in art gallery

Documentation: good

Collections Materials: on exhibit

Sustained Damage: none, some pieces need minor work only

Overall Condition of Collections: good


Medimurje Museum

Trg Republike 5, 42300 Cakovec, tel: 42-812-285, 811-820

Contact: Mrs. Smiljana Petr-Marcec, Director

Staff: 11, including 1 part-time masonry restorer, 1 photographer

Date of Foundation: 1954

Building: 1 (listed Renaissance palace, rebuilt after 1738 earthquake)

Present Condition of Building: minor work required, but major needed in long term Collections: 10,500 items pertaining to local history (archaeology, ethnology, culture, fine arts, etc.)

Documentation: have basic inventory, but not of older materials

Collections Materials:

stored: yes

Sustained Damage:

in situ: yes

storage : storage units urgently needed, spaces dry but not heated Overall Condition of Collections: many packed collections in boxes; museum collections need shelving, storage equipment, supplies generally Major Pieces that Require Treatment: many pieces need work but money, trained conservators and materials are lacking

Remarks: need qualified staff and resources, photography equipment and equipment for proper storage.


Baltazar Bogisic Collection

Knezev Dvor, Obala 18, 50210 Cavtat, tel: 50-78-556

Contact: Mrs. Stane Perizin Divanovic, Director

Date of Foundation: 1909/1955

Staff: 1 curatorial

Buildings: 2 (16th-century Rector's Palace and nearby birthplace of Balthazar Bogisic, a jurist)

Condition of Building: major problem from leaking of palace roof requires attention

Collection: fine collection of 15,000 books, 8,100 prints and drawings of great quality (16th-20th century), 3,000 coins, ethnographic and decorative arts, weapons, archaeological material, photographs, incunabula, manuscripts

Documentation: modern inventory in progress (5-10% complete)

Collections Materials:

moved: some removed but returned since

in storage: the best materials were stored in a safe place

Sustained Damage:

in situ: humidity a serious problem (the Adriatic is nearby)

in storage: humidity is a problem because rooms are tightly packed and there is no air circulation on the ground floor; archaeological collections are stacked poorly

Overall Condition of Collections: objects are in fair condition but storage conditions are cramped and humid

Major Pieces that require Treatment: arms and furniture collections need a good deal of work; graphics need proper storage units (the one existing unit is packed tight)

On-site Assessment for Collections:

preservation and display: collections are in fair condition, but a lot of preservation work must be carried out before displays can be mounted

Remarks: urgent material needs : fans to circulate air, boxes of W 75 x D 62 x H 10 cm for graphics and drawings, W 60 x D 44, W 90 x D 76, 12 metal units (W 106 x D 72 x H 50 cm), and boxes of different sizes for textiles; a team of 3 or 4 conservators working for a 2-3 - month period could rehouse textiles and preserve a good many pieces of furniture, and house prints and drawings; after this initial team effort individual objects could be selected on a priority effort for future preservation efforts;

Bukovac Art Gallery

Ulica Vlahe Bukovca 5, 50210 Cavtat

Contact: Mrs. Lucija Aleksic, Curator in charge

Staff: 1 curatorial (from Gallery of Fine Arts of Dubrovnik, parent institution), 1 caretaker Date of Foundation: 1964

Building: 1

Present Condition of Building: war damage to windows from nearby shell explosion; building is in state of disrepair and requires work on roof (woodworm in beams), floors, doors, windows and security system; garden also requires tidying up

Collections: home studio of the artist containing 74 paintings, documents, furniture and mementos

Documentation: basic inventory (includes family papers)

Collections Materials:

moved: paintings in Dubrovnik

in storage: furnishings in house

Sustained Damage:

in situ: furniture needs considerable work (cleaning, waxing, treatment for woodworm) since its condition has deteriorated in last 3 years

unknown: consultant did not see archives

Present Condition of Collections: paintings are in fair to good conditions in storage, though there are some humidity fluctuations; glass and small objects are reportedly in good condition; minor surface cleaning required, and all furniture needs attention (varies from fair to poor condition)

Major Pieces that require Treatment: entire furniture collection

On-site Assessment for Collections:

preservation: furniture, house and garden require urgent work

conservation: furniture and beams in roof

Remarks: funding is required for preservation of furniture (a furniture conservator should train a local craftsman in maintenance), the house and for restoration of the garden


Dubrovnik Maritime Museum

Tvrdava Sv. Ivana, 50000 Dubrovnik, tel: 50-26-465

Contact: Mrs. Anica Kisic, Curator

Staff: 1 curatorial, can obtain help from Dubrovnik Museum (parent institution), but has low priority; two staff members have left or on leave and have not been replaced

Date of Foundation: 1941

Building: 1 (St. John's Bastion, 16th-century)

Condition of Building: war damage- windows blown out, very minor surface damage to bastion; problem of damp when it rains (remortaring necessary? adequacy of post-1979 restoration?)

Collections: 4,000 objects, model ships, wood sculpture, portraits, paintings of ships, 17th-19th century weapons, instruments, documents, library and archival material

Documentation: completed

Collections Materials:

moved: some still in galleries

stored: mostly stored, books in library

Sustained Damage:

in situ: glass of one showcase broken by blasts

storage: fairly stable, however condition of library material is very worrisome - it is piled in heaps and there is a problem of damp

On-site Assessment for Collections:

preservation: much to be done, rust on iron objects

display: needs more trained staff, cases must be reglazed

conservation: none planned but clearly needed for metals, books, paper, models

Overall Condition of Collections: most of collection is packed and cannot be monitored; books must be packed, or cared for and reshelved

Major Pieces that require Treatment: according to the curator - 5 major 18th-century portraits, 1 ship's figurehead (18th century), about 10 nautical instruments

Remarks: contacts should be revived with other maritime museums (Hamburg, Kronburg, Paris, Venice, Greenwich); urgent need for curator to work with trained staff from other museums; review conservation/preservation needs with a conservator/restorer who is familiar with the material; such help needed for unpacking and verification of condition of collections; trained staff also needed for mounting of exhibits; fax and computer needed; funding for replacing the windows; study of structure to determine causes of dampness and remedies

Dubrovnik Museum

Knezev Dvor, 50000 Dubrovnik, tel: 50-26-469

Contact: Mr. Vlaho Benkovic, Director

Staff: 34 (of which 2 technical)

Date of Foundation: 1872

Building: 1 (15th-century Rector's Palace, rebuilt after earthquake of 1667)

Present Condition of Building: war damage- minor to roof, windows and facade; considerable problems of damp (on interior walls when it rains)

Collections: 15,500 pieces- cultural history, furniture, costume, silver and brass coins, medals, pinacotheca of old masters (280 paintings), archaeological and recent history collections

Documentation: good

Collections Materials:

moved: some furniture in Franciscan Museum

stored: yes, as well as possible, always away from windows

Sustained Damage:

in situ: some from handling

storage: only 1 area has controlled access; humidity is a serious problem in closed store rooms

unknown: some stored objects will have suffered, but extent will not be known until removed from storage

On-site Assessment for Collections:

preservation: pieces seen are only in fair condition

conservation: will be needed on many pieces, and surveys will be needed to set priorities

Overall Condition of Collections: fair; all furniture needs maintenance and care (condition fair to poor); gilded pieces appear to have been regilded in most cases, and not too well; paintings in a secure evacuation site but conditions seem damp

Major Pieces that require Treatment: Luca Giordano Cabinet (mother-of-pearl and tortoiseshell veneers), some damaged stone objects, 16th-century windows, paintings require work but not full requirements not surveyed yet

Remarks: only repair of war damage to building included in Unesco Action Plan- there is a very serious problem of damp in the Rector's Palace that must be dealt with; a training course for staff in basic furniture care and cleaning is necessary; the museum should have a small fund (DM 11,000) to purchase collections that have appeared on the market (19th-century glass, 18th-century Meissen and Sevres porcelain and two pieces of 19th-century Minton), moreover, there are other offers of paintings and furniture; publishers should send periodicals that would be shared among the staff of all the Dubrovnik museums; 16th-century Murano window discs should be restored.

Gallery of Fine Arts

Put Frana Supila 23, 50000 Dubrovnik, tel: 50-26-590

Contact: Mrs. Lusisa Alexsic, Curator

Staff: 2 curatorial, 1 technical, 2 night guards, 4 cleaners/ticket sellers, 2 other

Date of Foundation: 1945

Building: 1

Present Condition of Building: war damage - slight, windows require repair; condition of building good

Collections: 1,520 paintings, drawings, sculptures; 74 paintings from Bukovac Art Gallery

Documentation: up to date (including for Bukovac collection)

Collections Materials:

stored: yes

Sustained Damage

in situ: removed from view before war

storage: tightly packed; humidity problems; objects checked but are in areas with poor air circulation

Situation of evacuated collections and loan objects: Bukovac collection packed before war and kept in repository for evacuated objects; objects from exhibition entitled "1,000 years of Croatian Sculpture" (this exhibition on view) on outbreak of war and stored since (on floor in safe part of gallery)

On-site Assessment for Collections:

preservation: fair (but loan items need to be shelved and properly handled)

Overall Condition of Collections: residual smell of damp in the most secure areas; the curator trying to circulate air

Major Pieces that require Treatment: in the collection of modern art

Remarks: glass in windows must be replaced as quickly as possible, eventually with humanitarian aid glass from Germany, 3 electric fans needed to improve air circulation; help is needed with storage units, shelving and proper painting racks; a conservator should check the condition of sculptures in stored loan exhibition and make recommendations for care

Other: brushfires on hill-sides an ongoing concern since the 1980s, and while the building is insured, the collections are not.

Marin Drzic Memorial House

Siroka Ulica 7, 50000 Dubrovnik, tel: 50-20-490

Contact: Mrs. Feda Sehovic, Director

Staff: 1 curatorial, 1 technical

Date of Foundation: 1989

Building: 1 (16th century)

Present Condition of Building: war damage - shell impact on roof, but since repaired and gallery was reopening for the public at time of consultant's visit

Collection: reconstruction only (video, documentary exhibits and reprinted works of the playwright), no original materials

Collections Materials:

moved: no

Sustained Damage:

in situ: some to storage in attic and to video/sound equipment

Present Condition of Collections: problems with video equipment

Museum of the Dominican Priory

Ulica Sv. Dominika 4, 50000 Dubrovnik, tel: 50-26-472, 413-022; fax: 50-413-023

Contact: Prior Mario Marinov

Staff: 2 guards

Date of Foundation: 1948 (open to public in 1970)

Building: 1 monastery complex (14th century), listed monument

Present Condition of Building: war damage- to roofs, rosette window and 3 large stained-glass windows

Collections: well known, containing major pieces - paintings of the Dubrovnik School, liturgical vessels, vestments, jewellery; library with 250 incunabula and manuscripts, archives

Documentation: good

Collections Materials:

moved: within building

stored: yes

abroad: none, but some pieces in Split and Zagreb for restoration

Sustained Damage:

in situ: a few pieces in the church over the altar

storage: dry, there is no shelving and objects on the floor and on tables, but generally they have been handled well

unknown: objects (manuscripts, books) in steel crates in basement in questionable condition (smell of damp)

Overall Condition of Collections: manuscripts in basement cause for concern

Major Pieces that require Treatment: Dominicans want central panel of Paolo Veneziano crucifix to be restored before it is put back above the altar (two side pieces in Split being restored); this piece was put on the floor beneath sandbags (1992); rosette and stained-glass windows

On-site Assessment for Collections:

preservation: mostly good (manuscripts a problem)

conservation: consolidation needed on some polychrome pieces

Remarks: a conservator(s) should be present as the collections are unpacked and prepared to conduct emergency consolidation treatments onsite; roofs should be repaired as soon as possible.

Museum Collection and Old Pharmacy of the Minorite Friars

Franciscan Monastery, Placa 2, 50000 Dubrovnik; tel: 50-26-345

Contact: Mr. Mate Polonio

Staff: 2 guards, 7 employees in pharmacy (not presently part of monastery)

Date of Foundation: 1957

Building: 1 monastery complex (14th-century cloister, pharmacy from 1317), listed monument

Present Condition of Building: war damage to roof and interior, balustrade of cloister heavily damaged, but bell-tower repaired; the interior ceilings (including the library) have yet to be repaired

Collections: church treasury, objects, paintings, sculptures, chorales (11th-13th century), manuscripts (14th-17th century), incunabula (15th century), Dubrovnik artists (20th century), fine library, organ in church

Documentation: Dubrovnik Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments has an inventory

Collections Materials:

moved: within building

stored: fairly safe in situ

abroad: some pieces in Slovenia

Sustained Damage:

in situ: furniture, some books

storage: objects in damp conditions in some places (especially incunabula and books)

unknown: should be checked by conservator when objects are unpacked

Overall Condition of Collections: almost everything packed, severe woodworm in sacristy stalls, incunabula and manuscripts in damp storage and need urgent attention

Major Pieces that require Treatment: organ, manuscripts and incunabula

Onsite Assessment of Collections:

preservation: fair to good, some damp, need shelving

display: could be put back in place quickly but would need seismic upgrading while they have the opportunity if funds are available

conservation: would work with the Institute for Restoration of Old Dubrovnik

Remarks: require assistance for conservation of manuscripts and incunabula (shelving for archives, boxing projects for rare books, perhaps to be carried out abroad to remove them from damp conditions), treatment of sacristy stalls for woodworm, supplies for painting workshop (Mr. Vlaha) housed in the building, restoration of organ (three and a half-year old estimate of DM 150,000)

Rupe Museum

Ulica Od Rupa 3, 50000 Dubrovnik, tel: 50-412-545

Contact: Ms. Mirjana Zec, Curator in charge

Staff: 3 curatorial (only 1 presently in Dubrovnik), can obtain help from Dubrovnik Museum staff

Date of Foundation : 1940 (parent institution is the Dubrovnik Museum)

Building: 1 (granary built in 1590, a listed monument) and offices in building next door

Present Condition of Building: war damage - windows broken for last two years, extensive floor buckling on 4th floor from water damage

Collections: 4,560 ethnographic objects - traditional costumes, textiles, lace, etc.

Documentation: working on inventory

Collections Materials:

moved: to 2 depots, exhibition furniture is being used for field exhibits

stored: also some in museum

Sustained Damage:

in situ: minimal to objects left on view - lack of windows is a worry

storage: no damage according to curator, who has checked collections

unknown: storage extremely cramped and many textiles packed on top of one another, need shelving and boxes (acid free)

Overall Condition of Collections: all important material is stored and checked, objects are cramped and textiles tightly packed; the curator had just mounted a new exhibition in the newly prepared space when everything had to be packed

Major Pieces that require Treatment: more than 4,500 pieces need to be surveyed and many need preventive conservation care

Onsite Assessment for Collections:

preservation: maintenance and storage boxes most important needs

conservation: up to 50% of the collection

Remarks: complete roof work, repair of windows, relay floor; there is need of a conservator of textiles to work with the curator to organise priority treatments and help push for a workshop very soon


Karlovac Municipal Museum

Strossmayerov trg 7, 47000 Karlovac, tel: 47-32-762

Date of Foundation: 1952

Building: 1 (listed Baroque Zrinski palace)

Present Condition of Building: war damage- shelling damage repaired; building is secure, minor work needed

Collections: 18,000 pieces (natural and cultural history)

Collections Materials: stored

Sustained Damage: not seen

Remarks: town is divided and tense; further assessment required when collections are unpacked

Os ijek

Gallery of Fine Arts

Kapucinska 9, 54000 Osijek, tel: 54-123-345

Contact: Vladimir Dzanko, Director

Staff: 3 curatorial

Date of Foundation: 1954

Building: 1 (listed monument)

Present Condition of Building: war damage - to roof; this has been repaired but there is still problems of damp; minimal work required

Collections: paintings, graphics, sculptures - 18th to 20th century

Documentation: good, well organised and equipped

Collections Materials:

moved: some

stored: yes

Sustained Damage:

in situ: none

storage: none, storage facilities are good

unknown: greater part of collection

Overall Condition of Collections: those seen are in fair condition; the rest is reportedly good

Remarks: need more ties with professionals abroad

Museum of Slavonia (see annex)

Trg Sv. Trojstva 6, 54000 Osijek, tel: 54-44-363, 24-728

Contact: Mrs. Vesna Buric, Director

Staff: 20 (5 curatorial, 1 technical, 2 and a half restorers, 1 librarian, 1 book keeper)

Date of Foundation: 1877

Buildings: 3 large separate buildings (main is listed monument, built in 1772, one storage building is shared with commercial firms)

Present Condition of Buildings: war damage - to all three buildings; major work required for war damage and to repair general dilapidation (structural, electrical, security); a seismic event could cause very serious damage

Collections: 130,000 pieces (archaeological, numismatic, historical, ethnographic, bibliographic, decorative arts), library has 50,000 volumes (and other materials)

Collections materials:

moved: some

stored: some

Sustained damage:

in situ: mostly from very tight storage

storage: to objects moved within building and others that were evacuated

unknown: majority; monitoring is inadequate

Overall Condition of Collections: almost everything seen will need help of some kind (over 70% of the collections); densely packed and inaccessible until war is over (Osijek is very close to the front)

Remarks: the scale of collections and significance (this is one of the most important museums in Croatia) means that international aid is required; need access to specialised conservators of wood, metal, ceramics, stone, paper, coins, ethnographic materials and painted surfaces; there is much to plan for - storage and basic structural safety of buildings is highest priority (the Osijek Institute for the Protection of Cultural Properties is completing a survey); need onsite conservation capabilities, staff and material; need basic computers for collections management


Valpovstina Museum

Dvorac 1, 54550 Valpovo, tel: 54-183-194

Contact: Mr. Mirko Bartulac, Director

Staff: 1 curatorial/custodian

Building: 1 complex (remodelled 18th-century building and medieval keep)

Present Condition of Buildings: war damage - the roof has been repaired, but there is still one hole in northeast corner, the windows are broken and there is shell damage to facade; the complex was much neglected after World War II, and its condition is very poor - some reinforced concrete work to ceilings; major work is required on ceilings, floors, all facilities (electricity, water)

Collections: 3,000 objects - ethnographic, hunting trophies, stuffed animals, paintings, decorative arts, 19th-century costumes

Documentation: poor

Collections Materials:

moved: some moved elsewhere in town and the neighbourhood

in storage: the entire collection

Sustained Damage:

in situ: some

in storage: certainly some damage

unknown: it would be necessary to unpack to determine complete extent of damage, but those collections housed in a hunting lodge are at serious risk from damp and humidity (consultant indicated those in greatest danger to curator)

Overall Condition of Collections: pieces in storage need help in very near future

Major Pieces that require Treatment: probably about twenty paintings, and maybe other important pieces in the collection, but consultant could not get enough information

Onsite Assessment for Collections:

preservation: probably a great deal to do on collections, even though they are packed

display: must be completely rethought

conservation: required for the above mentioned paintings and probably for most of furniture collection

Remarks: a long-term realistic plan (for utilisation of whole complex and not just the museum, which should not be restricted to housing a permanent, lifeless collection) is necessary, and planning process should begin as soon as possible; a board of trustees must be set up and cooperation instituted with town cultural department, Institute for the Protection of Historic Monuments and MDC; funding campaign should be studied, but complex should become self-supporting


Municipal Museum

Stari grad, Strossmayerovo setaliste 7, 42000 Varazdin, tel: 42-43-712, 51-519

Contact: Mrs. Ljerka Simunic, Director

Staff: 5 curatorial, 1 masonry restorer who does some repair work on archaeological material, 1 photographer

Date of Foundation: 1925

Building: 1 complex (Varazdin Castle, listed monument built in 14th century, reconstructed in second half of 16th century)

Present Condition of Building: war damage - minor and since repaired (History Department); overall condition good, restored 1983-89, new administrative offices opening in spring of 1994; only minimal work required

Collections: permanent display in 33 rooms, several thousand objects

Presence of Evacuated Collections from other Institutions: yes

Documentation: curatorial records fair, need computers and inventory upgrade

Collections Materials:

moved: on show

stored: storage of furniture is poor, main pieces in galleries

Sustained Damage:

in situ: stored furniture is ongoing problem, no heating, birds dirtying furniture

storage: some objects stored in display pieces; storage areas fairly dry, but objects directly on floor, attic spaces cold; objects not monitored

Overall Condition of Collection: storage is a serious problem; need space and storage equipment, and access to conservation advice and treatment for objects; collections are secure at present

Remarks: objects are well displayed in good display surroundings; approximately 95% of collections need conservation work of some description; need equipment for photography


Vinkovci Municipal Museum

Trg Republike 16, 56000 Vinkovci, tel: 56-11-169

Contact: Mr. Stevan Jozic, Director

Staff: 3 curatorial

Date of Foundation: 1946

Building: 1 (listed Baroque monument)

Present Condition of Building: war damage - to facade and roof, which still requires repair work

Collections: archaeological, historical, ethnographic, numismatics, natural history, fine arts (separate building)

Documentation: inventory on all collections, evacuated and stored

Collections Materials:

moved: yes

stored: yes

abroad: yes

Sustained Damage:

Unknown: yes

Overall Condition of Collections: though building has been restored there is no money for heating; 30% of paintings will need some conservation treatment (about 10% of these in serious trouble)

Remarks: need equipment for digs and photographic equipment for documentation of damaged sites of international concern and importance; need shelves for library materials and probably for collections that were not seen by the ICOM consultant


Croatian Museum of Natural History

Demetrova 1, 41000 Zagreb, tel: 41-428-596, 428-615, fax: 424-998

Contact: Mr. Vladimir Zebec, Senior Curator

Staff: 35 curatorial, 3 technical, 4 cleaners, 5 fieldwork

Date of Foundation: 1888

Buildings: 1 main large building, 1 ornithological building in another area

Present Condition of Buildings: war damage (roof and windows); general renovation of building required (electricity, lighting, etc.)

Collections: 2,500,000 specimens (geology, palaeontology, ornithology, entomology, prehistory and archaeology), library of 30,000 volumes

Presence of Evacuated Collections from other Institutions: the museum is the parent institution for the natural history collections in Dubrovnik, Slavonski Brod, Zadar and the best specimens (3,000) have been evacuated from these collections.

Documentation of Collections: inventory books from the past, most of mineralogical collection on computer, remaining collections just beginning to be computerised

Collections Materials:

moved: from some small galleries, many still in situ in poor cases, arsenic can be smelled

stored: some

Sustained Damage:

in situ: yes, very dirty cases

in storage: yes, damp, mineral growths/crystal

unknown: since no survey has been done the amount of damage is unknown, but the collections cannot wait until the war is finally over

Situation of evacuated collections: at risk, shelving is wood and any seismic action would cause havoc

Overall Condition of Collections: surface dirt and grime, wet collections, labels missing, alcohol levels down, stuffed collections a health hazard, consultant's eyes stinging after a minute or so in some storage areas, big problems

Major Pieces that require Treatment: too numerous to list

Onsite assessment for collections:

preservation: a great deal to do

conservation: is an expensive option and should be considered only when basic storage conditions are regarded and exhibit material chosen

Remarks: need survey by conservator (mission of a month) for zoological, mineralogical and palaeotological collections, to set priorities and funding needs; staff needs training abroad for preparation of exhibits, and generally more contact with what is taking place in museology (periodicals) and direct assistance on the spot from foreign professionals; there is a crisis in natural history collections that must be dealt with urgently

Ethnographic Museum

Mazuranicev trg 14 Zagreb, tel: 41-449-886, 449-895, fax: 444-011

Contact: Mr. Damodar Frlan, Director

Date of Foundation: 1919

Building: 1 (Secession Guild Hall, listed monument)

Present Condition of Building: good, requires only minimal work

Collections: permanent display of 2,750 pieces, 70,000 objects in holdings

Documentation: good curatorial documentation

Collections Materials:

stored: stored or on exhibit

Sustained Damage:

storage: yes, storage is tightly packed, particularly textiles, but objects are safe

Overall Condition of Collections: storage is tight and compact storage units are badly needed for textiles, objects are in relatively new area and are well cared for

Remarks: upgrade textile storage when possible; carry out survey of textile condition with textile conservators when time and money allows

Museum of Arts and Crafts

Trg Marsala Tita 10, 41000 Zagreb, tel: 41-454-122, 449-668, 457-200, fax: 441-058

Contact: Mr. Vladimir Malekovic, Director

Staff: 15 curatorial, 3 conservator/restorers (paintings, textiles, metals), 5 technical, 6 other

Date of Foundation: 1880

Buildings: 1

Present Condition of Building: renovation before the war, condition is fair to good, with a humidity problem in one gallery, only minimal work required for housing of collections

Collections: more than 60,000 items (furniture, metalwork, musical instruments, clocks, ceramics, baroque polychrome and gilt sculpture, glass, photographs, graphics) and library of 50,000 volumes on decorative arts

Documentation: card filing system on most objects and computerised inventory being started

Collections Materials:

in storage: collections stored

Sustained Damage:

in situ: none

unknown: though storage areas fairly dry condition will be known only when objects unpacked

Overall Condition of Collections: large objects in galleries need work

Major Pieces that require Treatment: working slowly on 1,000 objects for permanent collection

Onsite Assessment for Collections:

preservation: many objects stored, textiles very tightly packed

Remarks: boxes and shelving are needed for the textile collections; materials necessary for conservator restorers (see lists); generally speaking this museum should begin collaborative association with other museums: a one-week course on international fund-raising, bookshop management, administration planning and organisation necessary; needs to work with other large decorative arts museums in order to improve exhibition techniques, exhibit objects abroad (the museum would like to start planning now for a large scholarly exhibition when war is over); publication exchanges should be undertaken; the furniture restorer needs exposure to updated cleaning techniques

Zagreb Municipal Museum

Opaticka 22, 41000 Zagreb, tel: 41-428-316, 275-552, fax: 428- 294

Contact: Mr. Vinko Ivic, Director

Staff: 20 (10 curatorial, 1 conservator/restorer for furniture, 2 guards for special exhibitions)

Date of Foundation: 1907

Building: 1 monastery complex (St. Claire, 17th century, listed monument)

Present Condition of Building: war damage - minor to facades and windows; 5,000 sq.m under construction for restoration projects, date of termination probably in 1995

Collections: archaeology, medieval history collection, crafts and guilds collections, documents, city administration and civic life, portraits, medals, decorations, weapons, photographs, maps, furniture, textiles, theatre, World War II, labour movement, archives, 10,000 volumes in library

Documentation: complete inventory on paper being computerised

Collections Materials:

Sustained Damage:

in situ: storage is packed and there may be handling damage

storage: units are fair but very full

other: methyl bromide has been used for insect infestation- metal parts were not removed

Onsite Assessment for Collections:

preservation: lots to do on basic preservation treatments

Overall Condition of Collections: tightly packed and many objects in fair to poor condition; there is extensive frame damage; objects are dusty and dirty; many objects are packed in iron corroded boxes

Major Pieces that require Treatment: textile collection; 18th-century banners (200+) in poor condition

Remarks: need publications, funding, possibilities of using curators as conference speakers to assist with travel expenses and research, etc.

V. Conclusions and recommendations

a) The Deterioration of Collections in Croatian territory

In Croatia the majority of objects that have been stored in situ, evacuated from occupied territories or from areas directly endangered by military operations are in fairly safe repositories, but the physical conditions are causing further degradation. There are never adequate storage racks, packing material, monitoring devices, adequate security or documented physical checks. Objects were moved in haste and have not been unpacked. Any package that the consultant lifted rattled.

Fluctuating humidity levels and the lack of heating or ventilation are a major concern. There are very few conservator/restorers available for emergency care and preventive maintenance treatment (the half dozen experienced staff in Croatia who can carry out this work are working at maximum capacity). Moreover, there is no money for conservation materials, storage units, conservation equipment, archival boxes or vans for transport.

The consequence is that a very high percentage of all movable cultural property on Croatian territory requires some consolidation, preservation or conservation treatment, and perhaps over 30% emergency work - most polychrome sculpture and furniture require treatment for active infestation of woodworm.

To be sure, the effects of the war have been grafted on the situation of museums and galleries inherited from the former regime. Yet the fundamental question that should be addressed is the action that can be taken to remedy, to a degree at least, the effects of war regarding aid for collections and staff. It will be argued that "nothing can be done until the war is over", but this approach neglects what can be done at least in areas that are not on front lines - it forgets as well those initiatives that have been carried out in Croatia (Unesco, Council of Europe, Arch Foundation, etc). The situation described by the consultant is one of urgency for much of Croatia's cultural heritage, and if just over two years of war conditions have done so much damage to movable objects, in a year or two it will be much worse.

b) The Situation of Collections in Occupied Territories and outside of Croatian Territory

A second problem is the situation of museums and galleries in the occupied territories and the collections in Serbia, about which Croatian cultural authorities have little if any information. The condition of some 200,000 objects is unknown at the present time.

ICOM recommends that the UNPROFOR and the ECMM collect information on the situation of cultural heritage in general, including museum collections, in territories that are of difficult access, and that the UN or other international peacekeeping forces be prepared in future wars to monitor the situation of cultural heritage and assure implementation of the Hague Convention.

c) Illicit Traffic and Security of Collections

It can be feared that many objects will appear on the international art market, and it is doubly important to warn the museum community at large. However, there are specific problems within Croatia - the difficulty of assuring security for stored objects and even objects on display in museums. Moreover, there is a serious risk of the dispersal of unregistered private collections, which are increasingly coming up for sale because of the difficult economic problems faced by their owners. and some aid must be made available to Croatian museums to acquire these collections.

It is clear that the International Committee for Return and Restitution of Cultural Property functioning in tandem with the Unesco Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property will have a role to play. Moreover, ICOM could provide professional assistance to all parties regarding this and related questions.

d) The Role of Museum Professionals in Croatia

The Croatian museum professionals whom the ICOM consultant met have a high level of professional competence; moreover, thanks to their dedication, collections have been protected from the worst direct effects of war. Croatian museums and galleries are invited to define their priorities and coordinate these on a national level, in order to enhance the awareness within the Croatian government about the needs of the museum community. This community must also plan for future reconstruction of museums in order to define the type of international expertise most useful to it, along with the appropriate international and national funding. ICOM is ready to assist in this activity, by putting its network at the disposal of the Croatian museum community.

e) The Role of the International Community

1) An urgent, basic need is information, which ICOM is taking a first step to remedy by distributing this report - with the assistance of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which has offered to publish it in their next information report on war damage to cultural heritage in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, secondly by resorting to the bulletin and other publications of ICOM. ICOM will also strive to organise further fact-finding missions in the republics of ex-Yugoslavia.

2)Two types of action are clearly called for: rapid intervention in the form of equipment and conservation materials, and a long-term reconstruction action by the museums of Croatia, in cooperation with the international museum community.

The international museum community should help Croatian institutions a great deal by sending basic tools and supplies either to the Museum Documentation Centre, or by writing to particular museums that have similar collections to their own and exchanging publications, sending tools and conservation materials, particularly those connected with emergency treatments (adhesives, facing papers, basic hand tools, canvas for backing damage canvases, computers, photographic equipment, film, office equipment, conservation literature). There has been little or no contact for at least three years, and the feeling of isolation and abandon should be broken down.

Short-term training programmes in situ should be set up for immediate preservation and conservation measures. International support could be given to regional (for example, Ludberg) and local (for example, Arch in Dubrovnik) emergency workshops.

ICOM draws special attention to the Museum of Slavonia as an important institution with major problems that requires urgent assistance (see annex).

Annex 2


by Dr Colin Kaiser (consultant expert)


A. Introduction

B. The activities of the ECMM concerning the cultural heritage

C. Bosnia-Herzegovina: Mostar, the Neretva Valley and Western Herzegovina

D. Croatia: Western and Eastern Slavonia and other

E. Conclusions and recommendations


1.       This report is based upon examination of European Community Monitor Mission (ECMM) archives in Zagreb and two 5-day fact-finding missions in the field (Herzegovina and Central and Eastern Slavonia), carried out with the close logistical support of the ECMM, and with the cooperation of national, regional and local political, military and cultural authorities (2-23 March 1994). The field missions would not have been possible without ECMM aid, since they involved politically or militarily sensitive areas. Even so it was not always possible to examine some places very long or take photographs everywhere, and there were a few problems due to local tensions.

2.       The significance of this cooperation with the ECMM is that it raises the possibilities of closer monitoring in the field of cultural heritage by the ECMM, and a good flow of information to the Parliamentary Assembly. Moreover, there is no reason why the cooperation should not be extended to other areas of interest to the Council of Europe.

3.       Another favourable situation arises in removal of heavy artillery from around Sarajevo and the agreements concluded between Bosnian Croats and Moslems, and between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia. These changes permit the international community to intervene in all areas of life with material and technical aid in regions that have hitherto been closed; the situation has genuinely changed for the better and the opportunity to begin reconstruction must not be missed, in order to stabilize such peace as there is and to convince people that they should not emigrate.


4.       From the autumn of 1991 onward ECMM teams had a mandate to monitor the situation of cultural heritage as part of its humanitarian activities. However, at this stage and for a long time afterward local teams had a great deal of work arranging ceasefires and related activities; the disastrous consequences of spreading ethnic cleansing also greatly increased their work.

5.       However, it is clear from the reports of the monitors consulted and from conversations with ECMM personnel that some monitoring of heritage, especially sacral buildings, was carried out, notably in response to local requests emanating from church authorities (Orthodox and Catholic), and to specific instructions sent out by the Humanitarian Section in Zagreb and the Humanitarian Cells in the Regional Centres. The monitors also arranged meetings between church, political and sometimes cultural authorities regarding certain cases.

6.       The following examples (the consultant found many more) do not provide an exhaustive picture of the monitors' activities, since complete study of the Mission Presidency archives, and those of the Regional Centres would need many weeks. The examples do not include more general mention of destructions of villages and urban centres which obviously include monumental and vernacular heritage.

22 October 1991: report of Dubrovnik team transmitting complaint of Archbishop of Rijeka-Senj regarding destruction, demolition or burning of churches in Lovinac, St. Rok, Bilaj, Gospic, Licki Osik, Licki Novi, Otacac, Brlog, Vaganac, Seliste, Saborsko and heavy damage to churches in Sinac, Prozor, Svica, Musaluk, Cetingrad, Dreznik.

25 October 1991: report of team Uniform, regarding villages and towns in the Split-Sibenik area (Konjevrate, Skradin, Duvrice, Split): "In all these places there were damages probably caused by mortars, armoured guns and air raids on some houses schools and Catholic churches and in Skradin also the Orthodox churches. However, the damages were not dramatic...Conclusion: it was apparent to the team that especially the churches (Catholic) were the targets of the attacks."

28 January 1992: general daily report of ECMM: "A humanitarian team visited Karlovac to discuss with the civil authorities the repair of the parish church (St. Nicholas). Progress was made and a further meeting with the Serbian Orthodox authorities will be held on 4 February." The Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of Zagreb confirms that such a meeting was brokered later by ECMM, but that no agreement with the Orthodox Chruch authorities could be reached about dismantling the steeple, which collapsed in the fall of 1993.

8 February 1992: report of Doboj team: "The team next visited the Jasenovac (in Croatia) concentration camp, shrine and museum. There has been a lot damage to buildings, looting of documents and artefacts and obvious desecration at this site." At the request of the Humanitarian Cell of the Regional ECMM Centre the team paid a second visit on 5 April 1992, and noted: "The monument is not damaged." According to the JNA and the Serbian museum manager the damage was carried out by the Croatian National Guard.

15 February 1992: report of request of Eparch Lukijan, following being prevented from visiting his residency in Pakrac by the Croatian National Guard: "Lukijan indicated that there are many manuscripts of historical (original) value in both places (church and residency). They must be protected. It is recommended that a team visit church/house (both have no roof) and they cover the libraries with plastic to afford some protection. Lukijan also asks if Zagreb/Belgrade authorities responsible for protection of monuments and utilities...could be notified of the problem". (For the Pakrac Eparchy Church and Residence, see below).

21 March 1992: report of Banja Luka team on visits to "Catholic Installations in Banja Luka area": visits to Monasteries of Nova Topola, Bos Aleksandravac and Church of Mahovljani: "Conclusion: It appears that there is no systematic attack against Catholic places in the area but previous damages during the main crisis last year and some more recent minor attacks caused by uncontrolled groups."

13 April 1992: Mostar team: visit to Zitomislic Monastery, which "is in the crossfire between JA and Croatian positions...We told the people there that we would keep visiting them regularly".

28 November 1992: report of team 2 in Gradacac: "The town is in dreadful condition. Much of the industrial area is badly damaged or destroyed, and most houses show signs of damage. The castle has been hit many times."

7.       The problem for the ECMM arose in the distribution of the information collected. The monitors do not, unlike UNPROFOR and UN agencies, have bulletins, daily press conferences, etc. However, distribution of information occurred locally with meetings from the representatives of NGOs and other organisations based in Zagreb. The non-existence of representation of international governmental and non-governmental organisations working in cultural heritage in Zagreb consequently cut off any information flow out of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

8.       The interest of the ECMM in the question, and in improving their own monitoring of heritage and cooperation with international organisations is manifest, and was amply demonstrated by the total assistance given to the consultant during his mission. Moreover, the decrease in their political/military negotiating role gives their small structure (75 monitors in the field) the possibility of giving greater attention to the question of cultural heritage.

9.       At the end of the mission the consultant provided ECMM with a draft monitoring form.



10.       In the months preceding the mission the consultant received much information about alleged destructions in Herzegovina, much of it from Bosnia-Herzegovina Heritage Rescue UK (BHHR); other information was contained in the report of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments in Belgrade. The field trip to Herzegovina had accordingly the objective of verifying claims about destruction, but also monitoring heritage about which there was no information, as was the case for western Herzegovina.

i) Mostar


11.       In every preceding information report considerable attention was given to Mostar, partly because it was one of the few major heritage towns in Bosnia-Herzegovina for which it was possible to obtain reasonably accurate information, but also because the possibilities of very serious damage to it were real, and because the symbolic importance of this damage is of an uncommon significance for the cultural and social unity of Bosnians. The destruction wreaked in the second battle of Mostar (May 1993-February 1994) is more serious than feared, but the essential for the international community is now to aid the injured town and not to wring its hands at the failure to avoid the destruction.

Description of damage

The Right Bank

12.       Except for the immediate zone next to the emplacement of Stari Most the consultant was unable to visit the pocket held by BiH forces that extends from near the Tito Bridge down through the Donja Mahalla because of the sniping that was still carried out on the area, and was not even able to get a very good view of it from the Left Bank for the same reason. Since it was a fighting zone, it was probably damaged from mortars and tank guns, which means that the overall destruction to the historic town is even greater. The Tabacica Mosque minaret was, however, standing. Moreover, part of the off limits zone about 150 metres deep behind the HVO positions along the "Bulevar" was seen rapidly from the armoured ECMM vehicle, and it appears that it suffered only additional superficial damage since the first battle.

13.       However, the Franciscan Monastery on the firing line was visited. Despite burning in a few rooms on the first and second storeys caused probably by incendiary projectiles shot from rifles, visible damage inside the building was caused by small arms and machine-gun fire. The library on the ground floor, protected by metal plates and sandbags in the window apertures, was undamaged. The worst problems to the building were the effects of the first battle, notably the unrepaired holes in the roofs from mortars, responsible for leakage (the water level could reach about 1.5 metres in the cellars).

14.       With the exception of the modern cathedral, whose roof had been summarily repaired with corrugated steel plates, other buildings damaged in the first battle were seen to have received little attention (for example, the Catholic Bishop's Residence remains roofless, though marked with the Hague Convention sign also indicating danger).

15.       The worst visible new damage on this bank was due to the dynamiting of three mosques. The consultant visited the Balinovac Mosque, whose building and minaret had both collapsed, and glimpsed a second dynamited mosque near the Franciscan Monastery; the Dervis-Pase Bajezadica Mosque could not be seen, but its destruction was confirmed locally. All of these acts of vandalism had occurred during the beginning stages of the second battle.

16.       The visit to this bank confirmed the information contained in the medias and the statements of officials of international organisations - that the damage BiH forces could do to the buildings of the western area of Mostar was small because of the weakness of their armament.

The Left Bank

17.       The Left Bank suffered grievously from the bombardments of the second battle. Some targeting with very heavy calibres (155 mm) had military objectives (the early 20th-century SDK building was the headquarters of a BiH brigade, and part of the first storey was destroyed) and others may turn out to have been shot at for similar reasons. Buildings on bridge axes were probably also military targets (on Musalla Square the Baths Building, which seems to have partially burned, and the Art Deco building further to the east, part of whose first storey is destroyed). The Old Clock tower also received a heavy artillery projectile in the belfry, which may or may not have been intended to wreck it as an observation or shooting post.

18.       However, there was a large number of cases of new damage to historic buildings that seems deliberate and without military purpose: the pinnacle of the Nesuh-Age Vucjackovica Mosque was finally shot off, but by chance it only damaged the corner of the porch; the minaret of the Cehuan-Cehaja Mosque (which had been virtually undamaged in the first battle) was destroyed by at least one 155 mm shell; a smaller heavy calibre shell hit the dome and upper wall of the Hadzi-Mehmed-Bega Karadoza Mosque. The most striking example of such shooting, with 155 mm, occurred on the Rozhadmedzi Ibrahim-Efendia Mosque, untouched by the BSA bombardments in 1992: a shooting pattern turning on an arc is visible, beginning with the Cinema building, continuing onto the Cadaster building, and ending with two hits on the mosque, one right beside the minaret, and the other at the east end of the north wall. As noted in the fourth information report, there was much shooting with heavy calibres on the Stari Most complex (Cejuan-Cehaja Mosque is near the bridge), with very serious damage to the Herzegovinian Archive Building, the smaller structures below Tara Tower, the Celovina Tower (part of the north wall has collapsed), and the remnants of the Goldsmith's District.

19.       Everywhere on the east bank new damage to historic buildings is apparent - to the Orthodox Bishop's Residence, the Konak Building, the Archive Building (the archives themselves have survived but desperately need proper storage conditions), etc - and where there is little or no new military damage there is the still the effect of unavoidable neglect (Ibrahim Sarica Mosque, Zgrada Vojne Komande Building, etc.).

20.       The residential mahalla districts too have suffered from bombardment, though the consultant did not have time to examine these.

Conclusion for damage to Mostar

21.       The historic town and monuments outside of this zone have been very badly damaged, and some historic buildings have been destroyed. The effort of reconstruction of the heritage - and the preceding paragraphs have nothing to say about modern housing, commercial and industrial establishments - require a major effort on the part of international cultural authorities. Old Dubrovnik with its handful of burned out buildings is the object of a Unesco campaign; much worse damaged Mostar deserves no less. Perhaps the EU administration of Mostar can help lay the foundations for such a campaign.

22.       The wounds created by the second battle run deep, and it cannot be otherwise. Fortunately it was clear from the consultants' discussions with the urban institutes on both banks that there is a genuine readiness to work together and an awareness that there is no other choice if the social and cultural identity of Mostar is to be preserved.

23.       International ignorance about the first battle of Mostar is still striking, and it is imperative that the damage evaluation of the city include all elements pertaining to the aftermath of the first battle - including all photographs taken (among them those taken by Mr Hatterer and the consultant during the December 1992 mission), damage evaluations carried out by the Mostar Office for the Protection of Cultural Monuments. The evaluation should be carried out by the architects and engineers from both sides, working in a single team, with the help of outside experts especially for questions pertaining to events and chronology (notably artillery experts, and experts who can date the damage). Putting all damage in one single evaluation is obviously necessary for the stage of rebuilding, but in order to prevent the rooting of partisan myths it is important to know who did what.

24.       It is imperative that a single institute be created, in order to avoid arbitrary choices about what should be saved. To begin with, in light of the various initiatives for Stari Most undertaken by Croatian cultural authorities, the Turkish government and Unesco, government, another joint team should be set up to come to prior agreement about what constitutes the bridge zone (the towers, the bazaar and Goldsmith's district, perhaps other buildings such as the Cejuan Cehaja Mosque and the Herzegovinian Museum), for from an architectural point of view it is not possible simply to rebuild the bridge span. Moreover, it will be important to consult local archaeologists about the desirability of examining the area before embarking immediately upon the reconstruction.

25.       There are no restoration architects remaining in Mostar, though there is a handful of native specialists living outside of the country. Accordingly there will be need to gather this expertise, and support it with foreign specialists. Opportunities for training overseas will have to be introduced, while attempting to prevent the "brain drain", which is already beginning (and which will be a threat for the entire country in the near future).

26.       There is also the problem of skilled artisans (stonecutting and sculpture).

27.       On the east bank there is a lack of every imaginable kind of equipment and material for technical work. The consultant was told that cameras and film and a black and white photographic laboratory were needed, along with surveying and geodisical instruments, office equipment, etc. Perhaps some of these may be available on the west bank, but a general survey of needs on both banks should be made.

28.       People on both sides agreed that it would be necessary for an international cultural organisation to open a coordinating office in Mostar, and the City Office for Reconstruction on the west bank offered to make such a space available.

ii) Neretva Valley


29.       The Neretva Valley was confirmed to be disaster zone, as was feared in preceding reports. Moreover, the term reprisals used in the first information report to describe the destruction of heritage falls short of the mark concerning the Orthodox and Ottoman (and often post-Ottoman Moslem) heritage, not to forget the villages in the area. Cultural and ethnic cleansing on a large scale are a more adequate description. The consultant was unable to determine the positions of BSA and HVO in 1992, and it is consequently not easy to attribute responsibilities: but much damage is recent, corresponding to the ethnic cleansing carried out in the early summer of 1993 against Moslem Bosnians; the Serbian population and their heritage were victims in the summer of 1992. The extent and intensity of destruction will weigh heavily on the relations between Croats, Moslems and the remaining Serbs in this area in the future.

30.       The consultant could not visit some sites, villages and towns (the World War memorial at Prebilovci, Stolac, etc.) for various reasons (restricted zones, highly uncertain security conditions, lack of time, difficulty of finding places in a totally empty countryside), and it is probable that these areas display similar patterns of destruction, although in Stolac there may be a combination of military damage (from the BSA artillery) and cultural cleansing by the HVO.

Description of localities and monuments visited

31.       East Bank

Klepci: mainly post-war Serbian village, destroyed almost entirely by dynamiting and burning; Orthodox Church of the Holy Virgin (17th century), dynamited to its foundations (1992)

Tasovcici: mainly post-war Serbian village, very badly damaged by dynamiting and burning (1992)

Visici: recent small cement mosque without minaret dynamited (1993), a little dynamiting and burning of houses in the village

Pocitelj: this Ottoman village, which runs up a steep slope to the plateau, had retained its traditional architecture, and some typical Moslem establishments (mosques, medresa, hans, hamum) built in the 16th and 17th centuries, but it was already largely abandoned before the war. The houses at the top of the bluff were vandalised during the war; the roofs of the big han (1664) and the nearby "Artist's Colony" in Gavrankapetanovic han were damaged by stone blown from the mosque, and both were vandalised. Several of the medresa's chimneys were also damaged or cut, but this building is otherwise intact.

The Hadzi-Alija (or Ibrahim Sisman Pase) mosque was dynamited in mid-September 1993. The explosives were set in the minaret, one of the most beautiful in the area and famous for its finely sculpted surfaces and cherefa. The stone came down through the stone porch, destroying half of it, and through the dome, completely destroying it. The mosque boasted recently restored frescoes, which are partly protected from the elements by the collapsed lead dome cover. The building has not been closed, the fallen stone has not been gathered, and no study has been yet made (notably on the wall adjoining the minaret), though a preliminary visit of the Office for the Protection of Cultural Heritage was made in October.

32.       Plateau villages east of the Neretva

Domanovici: some houses burned or dynamited, recent Catholic church had a few impacts but priest's house burned

Recice: very small recent mosque without minaret dynamited

Potkosa and nearby hamlets: houses abandoned, burned or dynamited

Opcici (Oplicic): entire village looted, burned (some of this damage goes back to 1992); recent concrete mosque with porch and minaret dynamited (minaret destroyed, roof fallen in), Moslem community building looted but not burned; 19th-century Orthodox church dynamited, with only apse and part of north nave wall standing

Aladanici: recent mosque with porch and minaret dynamited (minaret destroyed, corner of roof damaged); the Catholic church is intact; scattered burning throughout village

Lokve: Orthodox cemetery chapel on hill obviously used by soldiers (higher rise occupied until recently as observation post): chapel broken open; headstone of Orthodox priests' tomb overturned, one grave opened (with chain attached to slab handle), other graves opened and used to dump garbage, cemetery used for small arms target practice; the villages visible to the east and north have been looted, burned and dynamited.

It should be noted that this vandalism of a cemetery is exceptional - no other Serbian or Moslem cemeteries seen in this area were disturbed.

33.       West Bank

Gabela: the roof of the 19th-century Catholic church was damaged in 1992 and since repaired (but there is serious leakage); the cemetery was hit in the same attack (trees hit and since cut down, grave slabs broken and thrown about), probably by a bomb dropped by a Federal airplane (this is one of the few convincing cases the consultant has seen of this much alleged kind of attack); the fine Dalmatian-style stone Orthodox church of the Holy Ascension (1864) suffered slight damage (windows broken, one icon torn) in 1992 when a mortar hit a nearby tomb in the cemetery, but the interior was totally intact (the door of the church is not locked, but local Croats keep an eye on the church); the consultant asked the monitors to visit the church from time to time; some houses in the village and in the immediate vicinity have been burned or dynamited

Struge: the small mosque (without minaret) was undamaged except for a few small arms impacts and the consultant asked the monitors to include it in their visits.

Capljina: this town suffered from bombardment in 1992, but the vandalism of many shops and houses reveals that it suffered severely from ethnic cleansing; the modern Catholic church was slightly damaged by impacts on the bell tower, the mosque (only the minaret, with exception of the cement pinnacle, is original, the building seems new) was slightly damaged by small arms, with one larger impact on the minaret above the cherefa that did not pierce it; the Orthodox church of the Ascension (1911) had shelling damage to the roof and belfry, the onion bulb steeple was destroyed, and the interior had been totally emptied and vandalised; moreover, the nearby priest's house had also been vandalised.

34.       Towns and Villages to the West of the Neretva Valley

Ljubuski: the two mosques (Zabljak and Gozde) are located in the Moslem district north of the town: the buildings are stone, but were renovated in the 1930s, receiving short cement minarets; neither was damaged, nor was there any sign of burning or dynamiting

Gradska: the modern mosque with minaret was dynamited, and may be considered as destroyed (the hollow brick walls are badly cracked or buckling outward); this small isolated village on a plateau contains a number of traditional stone houses and farm buildings; some houses were vandalised

Value of the information checked

35.       The information provided by BHHR on Ottoman and Moslem heritage proved largely correct, with exceptions of spared buildings in Struge and Ljubuski. The Serbian reports showed wide variations in the quality of information: the church in Capljina was not razed and bulldozed, the church in Gabela was not "partially demolished" - these descriptions are indeed far from the truth; the description of the church in Opcici as "destroyed", is less inaccurate, and the demolition of the church in Klepci is an exact evaluation. Similar problems will emerge in the Orthodox and Serbian reports for Croatia.

iii) Western Herzegovina

36.       In Western Herzegovina a different situation emerged. The mosque at Omerovici near Tomislavgrad (built in 1906, the minaret added in the 1960s) was intact, except for a small rocket impact on the minaret, the mosque at Oplecani was said by local Moslems to be intact. The town mosque at Tomislavgrad, though not visited, also appeared undamaged. West of the town the mosque at Stipanjici (with a recently added minaret) had suffered slightly from a half-hearted attempt at burning. Another mosque at Suica north of Tomislavgrad was said to have been dynamited, but the site could not be visited because it was in a restricted military zone; the mosque at Podhum was similarly said to have been dynamited, but the site could not be found (the ECMM will be checking both of these sites). The mosque at Golinjevo (also with a recently added minaret) was completely intact. The Moslem villages were found to have suffered no damage from burning or dynamiting, which is not to say that there were no intimidations against the population: the people were able to stay in their homes and continue a reasonably normal existence.

37.       Outside of Mostar the largest concentration of great mosques is to be found in the town of Livno. The 16th-century Balagusa mosque had suffered a little damage from rockets to the cherefa and the south window aperture, but the real problems of this building are structural (bad cracks in the dome and walls) and it is in dire need of restoration along with its frescoes. The Glavica (Topovi) mosque had a few hits on the dome and on the nearby tower, but had suffered no other damage. The two other stone mosques (Curcinca, Begluk) of the town were intact, as well as the "Old Mosque", a wooden structure that could easily have been destroyed. The Moslem population had suffered from robbery and intimidation and deprivation of work, but houses were neither burned nor dynamited.

38.       The Orthodox Church of the Blessed Virgin showed shelling damage to the spire, the windows were broken and the interior vandalised (thus mainly confirming the Serbian report); the chapel (or ossuary?) below had also been vandalised.

39.       With the exception of the Orthodox Church, probably damaged in 1992, the little destruction observed dated from the summer of 1993, during the period of worst ethnic cleansing of the Moslem population by the HVO.


i) Western Slavonia

(a) The area outside of Pakrac: Orthodox churches and Serbian villages

40.       This part of the consultant's mission consisted mainly of checking of the reports of the Orthodox Church and the Belgrade Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage regarding damage to Orthodox churches (the damage to Catholic churches is somewhat better known because of the reports of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of Zagreb). Due to the lack of time the consultant could not check every village in the area.

41.       In the areas north of Pakrac the consultant found that Orthodox churches had very often suffered less damage than alleged in the above mentioned reports, and only infrequently more.

42.       Striking cases of disinformation were found. In Mali Zdenci the rare wooden church of 1761 was not destroyed, indeed it is untouched. Although the Church of St. George (1773) in Grubisno Polje was supposedly closed down and sealed by the Croatian police. its key was in possession of a local Serb who showed a church that was intact down to the last vestment. In the town of Daruvar the Church of the 318 Holy Fathers (1756) was said to have been destroyed along with the priest's house, but the only Orthodox church the consultant could find (with 1756 on the onion bulb steeple) was intact, outside (except for a little small arms fire damage) and within, along with the priest's house; the Orthodox Church at Donji Daruvar was also intact (though the reports did not mention this church). The Church of St. Dimitrius (1706) in Mali Grdevac was not demolished, but roof, steeple and facade were damaged by various arms, the interior was pillaged and two icons on the iconostasis damaged (there were also three observation/firing posts not far from the north wall). St. George's (1765) at Bastaji showed damage to the steeple, the interior had been vandalised, and the icons removed (by Orthodox church or Serbian authorities, see below). At Katinac a more recent Orthodox church (1926) was found to have been broken open and vandalised.

43.       The emplacement of the destroyed wooden Church of the Dormition of the Holly Virgin was found at Donja Rasenica. The consultant could not find the church at Batinjani, a village running several kilometres along the road, and it is possible that the allegation of dynamiting is correct.

44.       One of the few churches in this area to have suffered more damage than indicated in the reports was the Church of the Erection of the Holy Cross (1744), whose belfry was in fact dynamited (however the church has been without a roof since World War II).

45.       South of Daruvar, at Doljani, St. Elias (1741) showed damage to the roof below the steeple.

46.       The Serbian Institute report almost totally neglected the fate of Serbian villages. In this area and throughout Slavonia one encounters one-storey stucco-on-brick houses and farmhouses, wooden well houses and corncribs that are indistinguishable from Croat houses. A number of Serbian villages north of Pakrac were found to be totally uninhabitable through burning and dynamiting - Mali Grdevac, Batinjani, Gornji Vrijeska, and much of Bastaji (a mixed village, now inhabited by Croats from Kosovo). In other villages Serbs' houses were dynamited, but in some places Croatian houses and churches were pointed out as having been destroyed, notably at Dulovac.

(b) Pakrac: The Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity (1757) and the Bishop's Residence and Library (1732)

47.       Pakrac was very heavily bombarded by Serbian forces in 1991 and was the scene of back and forth fighting which damaged most of the town's monuments and historic urban architecture. It remained a dangerous zone throughout 1992 which explains, at least partially, why very little emergency work was carried out. There was a great deal of dynamiting of the houses of Serbs, who made up 40% of the population before the war (the Serbian population in all of the UN Sector West fell from 23,373 in 1991 to 5,839 in September 1993).

48.       The principle source of interest in Pakrac for the consultant was the condition of the eparch's church and residence. The church had been damaged from shelling, much of it from the south (i.e. from Serbian positions), as was the case of the residence; however there was also damage from the north, but in no case can it be claimed that Croatian forces were entirely responsible for the damage, though it cannot be excluded that their forces did not use these buildings for defensive purposes.

49.       The destruction of the iconostasis of the church, as claimed by the Orthodox eparch and reports, is not at all certain: there was no sign in the church that it had been burned, but if it was removed - which is likely - the consultant could not determine by whom. A similar problem occurs for the iconostasis of the eparch's residence, claimed to have been removed after occupation by Croatian forces. The fate of the library is also not entirely clarified: Croatian cultural authorities moved most of it to Zagreb, but believe that the most important volumes were removed by the eparch, while it was claimed by the eparch that some of the collection had been stolen. The Croatian cultural authorities have promised the consultant to supply him with all written information regarding this case. However, it should be pointed out that the iconostasis of the Orthodox church of Orahovica (destroyed in World War II), kept in the eparch's residence in Pakrac, was evacuated by church authorities to the monastery of Orahovica, which lends credence to the thesis that at least some valuable Orthodox movable heritage was evacuated before hostilities.

(c) The Monastery of Orahovica

50.       The Orthodox and Serbian reports did not claim that Orahovica had been damaged, but it was strongly recommended by the ECMM that the consultant go there. The entire ensemble, including the beautiful small byzantine style sixteenth-century church, was untouched. The safeguarding of the monastery is a lesson that the consultant found repeated elsewhere in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The sole Orthodox priest, seventy six years old, has lived in the monastery for the last forty two years, and refused to leave at the beginning of the war (though another priest did leave). Well known and respected by the Croats of the area, he was never importuned by them, and was indeed helped by them (shopping, supplying wood, visits by the doctor). The ECMM also visits him from time to time.

51.       Nowhere else in Slavonia did the consultant encounter an Orthodox priest, and their disappearance - as the disappearance of Catholic priests from East Slavonia and of imams from the valley of the Neretva - made it all the more easy to destroy their churches or mosques. Where priests remained (such as the prior in the Franciscan Monastery at Mostar, who stayed also to keep HVO troops out of his building, thus sparing it serious military retaliation, and the Franciscan priest at St. John Capistran Monastery in Ilok), their establishments suffered little. Had more stayed, there would probably have been less damage to sacral heritage, but there can be no doubt that there would have been another price to pay - some of these ecclesiastics would certainly have been killed.

(d) Conclusion

52.       The conclusion reached by the consultant regarding the credibility of the Orthodox and Serbian reports, especially when they describe vandalism in Croatian territory, is that they contain much exaggeration about the degree of destruction if not about the geographical extent of damage, and that their concentration on church heritage means that attention is diverted from the serious destruction of Serbian villages, which include rural vernacular architecture of cultural value. However the basic contention about the reports remains intact, that Orthodox heritage suffered considerably from Croatian reprisals.

53.       It may also be worth noting that in this area the Orthodox churches, compared to Catholic churches, badly needed repair before the war.

ii) Eastern Slavonia (United Nation Protection Area (UNPA) East): Vukovar, villages to the east of Osijek and Danube villages and towns east of Vukovar


54.       With the exception of the visit of a Unesco representative to Vukovar in early 1992, no representative of an international organisation has come to study the situation of cultural heritage. Missions from other international governmental and non-governmental organisations should take place; until then the ECMM - which has already monitored some churches in the area - will continue this activity.

(a) Vukovar

The cult of Vukovar

55.       For many, and maybe most Croats the symbol of the war is Vukovar: in the autumn of 1991 it bore the brunt of the JNA artillery as no other Croatian town ever would; it was lost after a heroic defense by outgunned and outnumbered soldiers, policemen and volunteers; thousands of its Croatian inhabitants disappeared and most of the others became refugees. It is the subject of books and videos; there are associations devoted to keeping alive Croatian Vukovar outside of the occupied zone; there is a wall of bricks with the names of missing Vukovar citizens outside UNPROFOR headquarters in Zagreb; there are Vukovar units in the army. It is the equivalent of France's Strasbourg, veiled in the Place de la Concorde before World War I. This means that it is also the subject of myths, and a mainspring of vengeance. It has dropped from the view of the world, which means that the native Serbs of Vukovar, also bombarded savagely by the JNA, have fallen into a black hole, or worse been totally identified with that army. If there could be any sense to the consultant's visit, it would be to remind Serbs and Croats alike that the international community should not forget what happened to Vukovar, and that it should become once again the gracious Baroque town of Croats and Serbs.

The Vukovar Municipal Museum Collections

56.       The short visit of the consultant allowed him to examine in detail only the question of the Vukovar Museum collections. There were four separate collections under the jurisdiction of this institution - the archaeological, ethnographical and historical collections of the Municipal Museums, contained in Eltz Castle (or Manor), the Bauer and other art collections in the Fine Arts Gallery, the Ruzicka memorial house (commemorating the Croatian chemist who won the Nobel Prize) and the Labour History Museum.

57.       The bombardment of Eltz Castle (1749) has been a subject of polemic between Croatian and Serbian authorities: it was a cultural monument, marked with the Hague Convention flag, and therefore its bombardment was a war crime; the Serbs claim that it was used by the Croatian military during the battle, and they published photographs showing defence works in its yard and the remnants of a rocket-launching position. The question should be approached openly: Vukovar is a small city, and this very solid building, higher than nearby structures, set strategically on the west road, one of the axes of the JNA advance, could well have been used by the Croatian forces, which is not to say that the photographic proof offered by the Serbs is conclusive. Moreover, its "military" use may have been restricted to the field hospital in the cellar, and hospitals are not military targets.

58.       Eltz Castle is not destroyed, contrary to allegations in Croatian reports, though it is badly damaged (however, the dependencies housing commercial offices suffered much worse damage). The local authorities have rebuilt the roof of the west wing, put a temporary roof on the east wing, and will shortly be covering the central section. Offices are functioning on the ground floor, and one of the finest baroque rooms has even been restored. However, it will require major repairs and the rebuilding of inside structures before the building can house its collections. The museum now has a staff of 8; the curator, Mrs. Olivera Rokvic, was in charge of cultural history collections in the museum before the war.

59.       Regarding the safeguarding of the collections from this museum and others, there has been another polemic. A commonly presented Croatian version of the story is that everything had been properly put into secure locations in various spots in the town; however, it would seem that virtually nothing was removed from the Eltz Castle and other museums before the battle of Vukovar, and sometimes collections were not even put in storage, which led to the total destruction of the Ruzicka museum collection (except for one desk) and the Labour History Museum (only photo-reproductions) and to damaging of the painting collections in the Fine Arts Gallery: the regular collection was still on the walls, which led to destruction of 5% of the paintings (mainly the Folk Art collection) and varying degrees of damage to 50% of the rest. Part of the collection had been moved to the Franciscan Monastery; others were on loan to offices. Perhaps as much as 10% were stolen, but paintings were recuperated from the offices, including from the cellars of the City Hall.

60.       In the central section of Eltz Castle the ethnographical exhibits in situ were destroyed and the National Liberation collection was very badly damaged. The rest of the collection (including the library of 13,000 volumes) was packed in boxes, and put mainly into the halls of the museum, thus protected on each side by two sturdy brick walls, the outer one very thick. Some of the archives were put in the cellar. In this way 80% of the museum collection, and all but five books of the library, were saved. The objects contained in the archaeological depot in the attic fell into the second storey, and have lost their value because they are all mixed up; ceramics were brought from a depot building at the archaeological site of Vucedol after the battle.

61.       This version of the situation of the collections during the battle was provided to the consultant by the curator of the museum in Vukovar, but it is fully admitted at Zagreb that the local authorities did not want the collections to be evacuated elsewhere in Croatia, and when they finally accepted the necessity of evacuation, the town was cut off. Vukovar was not the only example of local resistance to safeguarding measures in the name of preserving "normal life" - Dubrovnik is another case known to the consultant.

62.       With the exception of the library, which is in the museum, the entire collection and the painting collection were removed to Novi Sad in December-January 1991 (according to Croatian sources the Serbian Tanjug press agency announced this evacuation on 29 November); this is the subject of another polemic. This "requisitioning" by Serbian authorities is presented as tantamount to robbery, and in contravention of all international conventions. But another case can be made: when the town fell, there was no control over what was happening by JNA authorities (and there were worse things happening than vandalism of cultural properties). The Franciscan Monastery was looted (and a number of books and parts of crucifixes were later brought to the museum for safekeeping), a small part of the Eltz collection (town seals, archaeological artefacts) was also later found in a private flat; and, as noted above, some paintings were stolen. The decision to remove the collections seems to have been made by one part of the Serbian administration (the Ministry of Culture) because no other authorities could or would guarantee the safety of the Vukovar collections.

63.       Accordingly, the library and archives were moved into a private house close to the police station in Vukovar (and returned to the museum five months before the consultant's visit), the furniture of the Castle and part of the fine arts collection were moved to the eparchy building in Dalj, the rest of it went to Novi Sad and to Belgrade (whence back to Novi Sad later on). Except for the depot of furniture at Dalj (seen by the consultant), and which will be moved back to the museum soon, everything is in five museums in Novi Sad.

64.       The curator confirmed that everything that was moved has been inventoried, and that the Ministry of Culture of Belgrade has computerised records of the collections. About half of the damaged paintings have been restored.

65.       This third polemic about the justification of the removal of the collections is not settled - much less the question of their return to Vukovar, where they belong - but it can be asked what choice the local cultural authorities and the Ministry of Culture of Serbia had in November 1991.

Needs of the Vukovar Municipal Museum

66.       The curator of the museum expressed a single need: to develop contact with other museums. The question can be treated polemically (the Vukovar Museum no longer exists), or it can be recognised that this curator and her staff have worked with devotion in exceedingly difficult conditions for the museum and its collections, and deserve to be treated as professionals.

The condition of historic Vukovar and plans for restoration

67.       It had been feared in Zagreb that parts of Vukovar were being pulled down, including historic buildings. There was sign of only a few demolitions of houses, beneath the Franciscan Monastery. There had even been rapid restorations of some Baroque buildings in the centre.

68.       There is a district Committee for the Protection of Monuments, headed by Velimir Cerimovic, an engineer, working with a staff of 9 architects and engineers. There are restoration projects for individual monuments (St. Nicholas Church, Eltz Castle, Paunovic Chapel, etc.), and the hope that the international community will fund some of these. There is no indication of intentions to build a new city, but rather a strong attachment to the Vukovar that was so badly damaged and the desire to see it rise from its ashes.

(b) Villages and sacral buildings east of Osijek in UNPA Sector East

69.       The consultant travelled through the following villages and stopped in some of them, notably to look at churches: Bilje, Darda (northeast of Osijek), Bijelo Brdo, Bobota, Celija, Dalj, Ernestinovo, Koprivno, Korog, Laslovo, Markusica, Petrova Slatina, Sarvas, Silas, Sodolovci, Tenja, Vera (southeast of Osijek). With the exception of Laslovo (mixed Croatian Hungarian), Korog (mainly Hungarian), Bilje (mainly Croatian) and Celija (almost entirely Croatian) the majority of the inhabitants of these villages were Serbs, according to the census of 1991. These villages contain important stocks of traditional architecture (one-storey stucco and brick houses with galleries).

70.       There were two cases of totally destroyed villages (burning and dynamiting): Celija, wrecked in May 1991 according to Croatian sources, was said by Serbs accompanying the consultant and European monitors to have been built in or after World War II and populated by Herzegovinian Croats; and Laslovo, whose date of destruction could not be determined by the consultant. However, it is probable that this second village was destroyed early in the war: there was almost no destruction of Croatian houses in the other villages, though the consultant saw hundreds of empty houses. This is a remarkable pattern compared to what the consultant has seen in Croatia and Herzegovina, in which burning and dynamiting were the rule. In this area of Sector East it is probable that two villages were destroyed in order to make the Croatian and Hungarian inhabitants elsewhere leave; their houses were destined to be occupied by Serbs, and many Serbs from Western and Central Slavonia settled in the area.

71.       Due to limitations in time the consultant could not inspect many churches. The Baroque Catholic church in Bilje had suffered minor external damage from rockets, the sacristy had been burned out and the building vandalised (the doors were not locked), the roof and onion-bulb pinnacle of the Hungarian Protestant church in this village were totally destroyed; the Hungarian Protestant church in Korog had suffered bad shelling damage to the stone structure of the steeple and to the roof, and it had been vandalised; the Hungarian Protestant church in Laslovo had also suffered heavy damage to the onion bulb-pinnacle and roof, and had probably been vandalised. Although the Croatian reports had mentioned the Hungarian church at Laslovo, it was clear that little had been known prior to the consultant's visit about the damage inflicted to these Baroque Hungarian churches.

72.       A number of Orthodox churches were seen as well, but damage was usually found to be slight in comparison: St Michael's in Darda (1777), maybe damaged but only by small arms (said to have been since repaired); St. Dimitrius Cathedral in Dalj (1799), damaged by small arms fire; Pentecost Church in Markusica (1810), damaged by two or three rockets or small mortars. The worst damaged Orthodox church seen was the Church of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin (built in the middle ages, rebuilt in 1757), near the present demarcation line: its roof had been destroyed. The icons had however been removed in time and this church could not be described as "destroyed from tower to the altar", as claimed in the Serbian report.

(c) Villages, small towns and sacral buildings on the Danube below Vukovar

73.       Sotin, Opatovac, Mohovo, Sarengrad, Lovka and Ilok showed mainly the same pattern of ethnic cleansing as observed elsewhere in UNPA east. The Ilok Town Museum had suffered no disturbance to its collections (thus confirming information contained in the Icom report); the worst threat to the building comes from the presence of three big watertanks in the attic of the west wing, which pose problems through leakage and the sheer weight of the tanks (however, they are necessary for supplying the town).

74.       The situation of other heritage was diverse: at Ilok the much restored 15th-century St. John of Capistran church of the Franciscan Monastery had suffered minor damage to the belfry from a rocket, some of the 19th-century stained-glass windows were broken, and the door had been damaged by a bomb in July 1993 after which the entrance was walled up. Yet the church is functioning, and is protected by the presence of the Franciscan priest, the interest of the UN Civil Affairs officer and the ECMM and the attitude of the local Serbian authorities. The Ottoman tomb near the Ilok Town Museum has not been damaged.

75.       The only other Catholic church in the area that could be examined was the Baroque Church of St. Mary. The steeple had been shot off, the roof structure severely damaged (with the interior ceiling fallen in), with particularly heavy damage to the roof behind the belfry. The church was open. Five wooden statues were scattered about the church yard, and were in poor condition, having lain on the grass since 1991. The ECMM will attend to having these statues put into proper storage.

(d) Recent ECMM Monitoring in UNPA East

76.       The EC Liaison Officer monitored several churches and monasteries in January 1994 and found significant damage to the following establishments: St. Peter and St. Paul Church and Monastery in Sarengrad (heavy damage to the church tower); Our Lady of Fatima Church in Borovo Naselje (major damage to the whole building, which will need reconstruction); Holy Cross Church in Bogdanovci (only very damaged walls remaining); St. Joseph the Carpenter's Church in Borovo (major damage inside and out, requiring reconstruction); plus the churches in Vukovar about which more is known.

A profusion of reports

77.       The consultant was given information by the Bishop of Dakovo-Srijem on damage to churches throughout the diocese (which includes eastern Slavonia and the Srijem region of Serbia). It was not possible to verify this information except in two locations (the description of structural damage to the church of Bilje was found to be exaggerated, in the case of St. Mary's in Sotin the report mentioned the possibility of complete destruction but did not affirm it), and all this information has been turned over to the ECMM for monitoring. Information sent to UNPROFOR by the Zupanija of Vukovarsko-Srijemska (dated 10 January 1994) refers to damage to churches mainly in 1993. The consultant was also informed by the person coordinating this information that a Greek Catholic Church at Petrovci had been damaged in January of this year. This information too is now in the hands of the ECMM.

78.       It is clear from discussions in Zagreb that the report of the Bishop of Dakovo-Srijem is not known to the Croatian cultural authorities; it is also true that a glut of "information" on Catholic churches continues to appear, much of it in sophisticated trappings such as maps and computer print-outs. At the moment of terminating this report the consultant received such a document prepared by the Geographical Information Systems branch of the Croatian national oil company (INA), which has only two classifications (destroyed and damaged). GIS has also produced a cadaster map of Vukovar that presents Eltz Castle as being destroyed. This inflation of authoritative-looking documentation is a problem. The consultant hopes that the Zagreb Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments will produce the kind of work that is badly needed, and include Orthodox and Protestant sacral buildings, which are also Croatian heritage.

Conclusion: Destruction of sacral heritage in the areas seen in UNPA East

79.       Outside of Vukovar the most seriously damaged cultural heritage was sacral - Orthodox heritage seemed mainly little damaged, whereas Catholic and Protestant churches showed considerable damage from artillery and vandalism. Yet, like other war zones visited by the consultant in Croatia and Bosnia-Herezegovina, the patterns of damage are very diverse, ranging from the probable dynamiting of a Catholic church in Dalj (pictures were shown to the consultant but he did not see the site), to the minor damage to the Franciscan Monastery in Ilok. The ECMM can be of great assistance in informing the Croatian cultural authorities, the Catholic and Protestant Churches, and the Council of Europe of the real extent of destruction.

iii) Other

(a) Exhibitions of moveable Orthodox heritage in Belgrade

80.       The Museum Documentation Centre at Zagreb provided the consultant with copies of catalogues of two exhibitions organised in Belgrade - "The Art Heritage of Serbs in Western Slavonia - Pakrac, Lisicine, Veliki Bastaji" (May-August 1993) and "Icon Painting of the Dalmatian Krajina - from the regions imperialled (sic) by the war" (May-June 1992).

81.       The first is of great interest because it includes 128 objects from Pakrac, including two paintings from the residence of the Eparch, and the iconostases of the Orthodox churches of Lisicine and Veliki Bastiji, the second evacuated to Belgrade on 12 December 1991. It seems that the other exhibition, of 180 objects, was composed mainly of icons from the Benkovac area, under Serbian control, and the catalogue notes that "urgent and extraordinary measures (were taken) in late 1991 and early 1992" on behalf of this heritage.

82.       In other words, evacuations were carried out, and it would be interesting if the cultural authorities of Belgrade would identify the moveable cultural heritage from Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina which is in their possession, and if the Dalmatian objects were returned to the Krajina.

(b) Dynamiting of the Eparchy building in Karlovac

83.       The Council of Europe has received copies of two reports (28 December 1993, 12 January 1994) on the setting of two explosive charges in the Eparchy Building in Karlovac, mentioned in the Fourth Information Report. These reports were compiled by the Vicar of the Orthodox Clergy of Plaski, and were sent to the Eparch of Upper Karlovac. The first notes that the worst damage occurred to the south part, "completely demolished, from the ground floor to the roof, so that only the north wall on the courtyard remains"; there was also damage to the east wing. According to the second report the cultural treasures and furniture were evacuated by the Karlovac Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments to Zagreb on 30 December, and the negatives of the photographic inventory seem to have been handed over to the Orthodox Church. The report notes, "in our opinion the staff of the Regional Institute (of Cultural Monuments), for their part, demonstrated remarkable professionalism". According to the engineers who examined the building "those who wanted to eliminate from Karlovac the Eparchy of Upper Karlovac and the Serbian Orthodox Church have carried out an efficient job"; in other words, the dynamiting of the building was very professional.

(c) International initiatives on behalf of the Croatian cultural heritage

84.       Useful information on international initiatives was provided by the Regional Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of Osijek: Italian Caritas has provided funding to rebuild the church at Jarmina and other sacral buildings; an Austrian humanitarian organisation in Graz is providing materials for the Jankovic spa ensemble in Lipik; the city of Bamberg has purchased a complete roof for the Cathedral of Osijek; and there is funding from southern Austria for the Library and the Institute building in Osijek. The Croatian Liaison Office in the ECMM also noted that there is a UN plan (Vienna office) for general reconstruction in the Pakrac area which includes a heritage element.



Suspected damage was all too often confirmed and sometimes found to be worse. Despite the exaggerations contained in Orthodox and Serbian reports, the losses to sacral and vernacular heritage remain serious. Fortunately there are areas of relatively little destruction and where the situation could have been much worse (such as the parts of Western Herzegovina that were visited).



i) The recently announced initiatives for the Old Bridge should specify the whole of the bridge complex (towers, Goldsmith's district and bazaar, and other related buildings). Moreover, The Historic Town of Mostar should as such be the object of an international campaign. This signal is necessary to prove to a much tried people that the world values the heritage of this remarkable city, thus breaking down a terrible sense of abandon. This declaration, if followed up by real action, could also be dissuasive vis-a-vis the Bosnian Serb Army, and it would be an effective encouragement to "rebuilding bridges" between left and right banks, because the crucial factors in the reconstruction and restoration of Mostar is the capacity of its people to be able to work together.

ii) The "permanent" presence of representatives of an international cultural organisation (or organisations) is absolutely crucial for rebuilding confidence, monitoring local conditions and needs, and liaising with other international organisations dealing with cultural heritage. Opening such an office is possible immediately.

iii) International expertise is necessary immediately to advise on the salvageability of individual monuments and emergency measures. The Committee on Cultural Heritage of the Council of Europe could provide such expertise. The damage evaluation itself must be carried out with international experts having a variety of skills (including military), who should work side by side with the professionals from both banks.

iv) The material necessities noted above should be met by international governmental and non-governmental organisations, with the help of such associations as BHHR.

v) The EU mandate for administration of the city should include cultural heritage.


i) Icom and the international museum community should seek to establish professional contacts with the Vukovar Municipal Museum and the Vukovar Museum in exile in Croatia, partly in the spirit of attempting to rebuild bridges.

ii) Considering the symbolic importance of Vukovar, and the present climate that exists around the subject in Croatia, it is desirable that international organisations visit the city in order to provide correct information and to evaluate the situation of the cultural heritage and projects for reconstruction and restoration, in the perspective of international aid to the city.

iii) It is urgent to clarify the situation of the Vukovar collections, especially the paintings, and to this effect the invitation of the Serbian cultural authorities to examine the depots in Novi Sad should be very rapidly taken up. The ECMM could be very helpful in the organisation of a Council of Europe mission comprising a museum expert.

Cooperation with the ECMM

i) The Council of Europe should, on the basis of this mission, develop its collaboration with the ECMM along the following lines, concerning cultural heritage, but also other matters (education, local democracy, etc.):

a) establish an agreement on the flow of information from the Humanitarian Section of the ECMM to the Parliamentary Assembly, which could distribute this information in further reports, and perhaps stimulate the collaboration between national ministries of culture and the ECMM; in return the Council of Europe should assure a flow of information and monitoring requests to the ECMM

b) continue on-the-spot collaboration with the ECMM, which could provide support for further fact-finding, notably in the Krajina and Central Bosnia (including Sarajevo), and also for the experts bringing technical expertise

c) it would be desirable that the countries of the EU provide specialist monitors to the Humanitarian Section.

31 March 1994



A. Appeal to the Yugoslav and World public

to stop the destruction of cultural heritage

(Belgrade, 27 November 1993

      In the territory of the former Yugoslav republics of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina devastation has been going on for over two years now. The war has taken a heavy toll in human lives and laid waste to a great deal of material property. Traces of culture like cultural and historic monuments, old city centres, churches, cemeteries, museums have been systematically destroyed along with collections that testify to the national and cultural identity of all peoples that have lived and created there over the centuries; this includes over 300 devastated Serb churches (156 torn down , 169 severaly damaged), 150 other ecclesiastical buildings, some 50 museums, galleries and a number of other landmarks of cultural and historical value.

      While the hope emerged that soon the crisis would be over and the war would end, the city of Mostar was thoroughly devastated, the culmination being the demolition of precisely the Old Bridge after which the city was named. The bridge once connected two banks, peoples, faiths and cultures and for 476 years withstood the scourge of wars and violent upheavals that ravaged the Balkan region. There are also other precious cultural and historic monuments that have been wiped away in Mostar. They include valuable Serb landmarks such as the Saborna Crkva Cathedral, one of the largest in the Serbian diocese, a 16th century church dating from the same period as the bridge itself, the Episcopal Residence, the Serb cemetery and the old city centre.

      Dismayed by all this devastation we hereby address an appeal to the masters of war, and particularly to the institutions around the world that have not been sufficiently active in preserving this cultural and historic heritage. We call on them, as well as on all well-meaning people, to join us in seeking to do all we can to put an end to devastation and never let it happen again.

The Serbia Museum Society

The Serbia conservationists Society

The Serbia Art Historian Society

The National ICOM Committee

B. Wish in favour of Mostar and the heritage of Bosnia-Herzegovina

by the ICOMOS Executive Committee

following a proposal by its Honorary President, Michel Parent

(2 February 1994)

C. Protocol on co-operation for reconstruction of the Mostar Bridge

(Ankara, 7 February 1994)

D.       Letter from Dr Žarko Domljan, Vice-President of the Parliament of the Republic of Croatia, member of the special guest delegation to Mr Nic Tummers, General Rapporteur for the Cultural Heritage (Zagreb, 3 March 1994)

E. UNESCO press communiqué

(Paris, 10 March 1994)

1 1       See Docs 6756, 6869, 6904, 6999 and 6989 and Addendum

2 2       Agreed by the Committee on 11 April 1994

      Secretaries to the Committee: MM. Grayson and Ary