You will not find a quieter place than the Mackov kamen (Cat’s Stone), a peak on Mount Jagodnja, near the small town of Ljubovija in Western Serbia. The deafening silence that greets you is interrupted only by the occasional sounds of woodpeckers banging on the bark of the surrounding trees.
It is hard to imagine the horror that occurred here in September 1914, when at this very peak heavy fighting was fought between the 1st Serbian and 6th Austro-Hungarian armies during the Battle of the Drina River in the First World War. Thousands of Serbian and Austro-Hungarian soldiers left their bones here. This battle is considered one of the bloodiest in the bloody history of the Great War.
The only thing that reminds of the horror today is the anomaly at the top of this beautiful mountain – the memorial ossuary where the remains of these warriors are stored.
The idea to build this monument was born in 1925, and the ossuary itself was built 4 years later. The bones of warriors who died in battle were transported there in August 1931.
The monument itself, a chapel made of granite, is about 8 meters high, and at its top, above the bell tower, there is a cross. The chapel itself has double doors, and inside is a fresco of the Virgin Mary, next to which are crossed four rifles, a symbol of the warriors who were killed here.
At the entrance to the complex there is an inscription “Fatherland to fallen heroes” and the verses of the poet Vojislav Ilić the younger are written:
Unknown brother, when you come along,
Stop walking for a moment,
And stop by here where the victims sleep,
From the great struggle for freedom.
Bow to their holy ossuary
And reprimand, closing the door:
That righteousness is stronger than force,
And that David beat Goliath. “
The story behind this monument is magnificent and sad. Namely, right here the biggest blow was dealt to the great Austro-Hungarian offensive on Serbia. Although the Serbs suffered huge losses, they did not allow the Austro-Hungarians to break their defense.
The conflict on the Cat’s Stone is actually part of the great Battle of the Drina, in which the Austro-Hungarians tried to penetrate the Serbian defense, but the fanatical combat of the far weaker Serbian army meant great losses to the superior Austro-Hungarians, who eventually won this battle but later lost war.
During the Battle of the Drina, about 11,000 Serb soldiers were killed, wounded or missing, and the Austro-Hungarians suffered even greater casualties – the number on their side was more than 30,000.
In the crypt of the monument is also the memory of the greatest hero of Mackov kamen battle – Major Svetislav Markovic, who led his soldiers in a suicide attack on the enemy.
This text was published as part of the project “Seven Wonders of Ljubovija” and co-financed by the municipality of Ljubovija.
(Come to Serbia)