The partisan hospital is hidden in the Petrova Gora forest, in the area of Kordun. It was built in 1942, during World War II to function as a field hospital for the resistance fighters, the partisans. In order to remain hidden from the Ustaše additional to several houses above ground, an underground complex was created to safely treat the sick in case approaching danger. During the war, the hospital was never discovered. Around 5000 sick and wounded people were treated. The people who deceased are buried in a small cemetery at the site.
The area of Kordun where the hospital is located, was a battleground where both in WW2 and during the wars in the 1990s, where many ethnic Serbs there were subjected to violence. The Partisans helped and consisted of different ethnicities, also Croatians, such as doctor Zlatić, who came from Zagreb to help the partisan cause in Petrova Gora.
After World War II it became a place where the resistance was commemorated. It was transformed into a memorial complex that hosted excursions for children to the place during the 1960s. Nowadays, there are still traces left of this memorialization but the houses are abandoned from both the in- and outside.
Even though the site looks like hardly any people visit it, there have been initiatives to reconstruct the place. Interestingly, the Russian and Israeli embassy have been supporting these. Aside from these partners, locals have also donated. One of the outcomes is a memorial plaque in remembrance of Dr. Marija Schlesinger who worked in the hospital until 1943, the year she passed.
The plaque has been here for about two years.
The following memorial plaque has been reconstructed by the Russian embassy in 2016.
In 2021 the local party affiliated with the HDZ national party also expressed intent to reconstruct the site.
Nowadays, the interest for these monuments mostly comes from local minorities and initiatives. The Partisan hospital is thus a space between memory and oblivion – but gaining awareness.
For more info & sources:
Večernji list. “Izraelci ulažu u partizansku bolnicu”. Večernji list. 27 Oct 2017, www.vecernji.hr/vijesti/obnova-u-petrovoj-gori-izraelci-ulazu-u-partizansku-bolnicu- 1054670
Text and photos: Karlijn Hulshof