RENOVATION OF JASENOVAC MEMORIAL SITE

After the area was liberated in May 1995, a special commission of the Ministry of Culture responsible for listing and assessing war damage to cultural monuments confirmed the actual extent of the damage.

It was confirmed that 7,705 museum exhibits had disappeared or been destroyed, along with about 2,500 titles from the library, and the material war damage was estimated at 690,570 German marks.

Using the microfilmed library inventory and in co-operation with the Republic of Croatia’s Ministry of Culture, complete, expert documentation was prepared as a basis for submitting a request for the return of the museum, archive and documentary inventory removed from Jasenovac Memorial museum.

On the basis of a project and plan for the restoration of Jasenovac Memorial Site, extensive re-ordering and revitalisation of the area began, including de-mining and landscaping the environment, restoring the Museum and office buildings, and research work into restoring the Flower Memorial by Bogdan Bogdanović, along with the restoration and preservation of the camp train. The path leading to the monument, called „pasarela“, was renovated with the help of Croatian railways in 1999, and experts from the „Janko Gredelj“ factory have restored and protected the memorial train.

The Republic of Croatia’s Ministry of Culture participated in the restoration of Jasenovac Memorial Site by directly assuring the necessary funds and offering expert assistance. Other donations made by institutions, bodies and organisations in the Republic of Croatia for the restoration and re-ordering of the memorial site included those from the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry for Renewal and Reconstruction, Croatian Railways, Zrinjevac, the Croatian Museum of History, the Croatian State Archives, Jasenovac Public Cultural Foundation and the Municipality of Jasenovac.

In mid-May 1998 the Ministry of Culture appointed a Commission and entrusted it with the basic task of compiling a provisional museum inventory, based on the available museum, archive and other documentary inventory. The Proposed museological concept for Jasenovac Memorial Museum’s new permanent museum exhibition was submitted to the Ministry of Culture on 3 December 1999.

The appointment of the Commission intensified the museum operations of Jasenovac Memorial Site, so that during the following years, several thematic exhibitions were mounted, such as Jasenovac Memorial Site, 1968-1999, The Prisoner Breakout of 22 April 1945 and Jasenovac Concentration Camp: an Exhibition on the Beginnings of the Camp System, August 1941 to February 1942.

The Ministry of Culture and Jasenovac Memorial Site sought the return of the museum inventory with the help of international institutions. On the basis of an agreement signed between the Holocaust Museum in Washington and the Ministry of Culture, part of the museum and archive inventory (7,705 items) which was being stored in Banja Luka, was sent for safekeeping to the Holocaust Museum in Washington for one year, in October 2000, for the purposes of conservation, restoration and cataloguing. In December 2001 it was returned to the Memorial Site.

The return of the museum and archive inventory meant the start of revision of the entire museum inventory and documentation. The revision was completed in February 2004 and included all the returned material and other material collected during the continuing activities of the Jasenovac Memorial Site (from June 1997 to the end of 2003).