The Memorial park October in Kragujevac was established in 1953 on site where in October 1941 a few thousand citizens from Kragujevac were shot – Serbs, Jews, Roma people, Muslims, Macedonians, Slovenians and members of other nationalities. This terrible crime was committed in Kragujevac and the surrounding villages, over the male population aged between twelve and sixty five.
The Memorial park takes up the area of 352 ha where there are 30 mass tombs. The area has been laid out by the urban project of two architects Mihailo Mitrovic and Radivoje Tomiæ. Up till today over ten tombs there are ten sculptural-architectonic unities. One of them, the Monument to the shot pupils and teachers is a true symbol of the city.
The Museum 21st October was founded within the Memorial park on 15th February 1976 with the aim of gathering, processing, keeping and presenting the documents concerning the shooting and the victims, through exhibitions and printed material. Apart from that, The Memorial Park organizes the traditional manifestations, whereas the exhibitions the modern art exhibitions are organized in the City gallery The Balkan Bridges, opened on 7th April 2005.
At the very entrance into the Memorial park there is the building of the Museum 21st October, which is the work of Ivan Antiæ, architect. It is a building with a few symbolic meanings. The red bricks it is made of are a symbol of the blood shed on site, and 33 vertical towers of different heights unite into one unique unity 33 tombs in Šumarice and three neighbouring villages. There no windows in the towers, “the celestial wells“ which points to the impossibility of the situation which these people found themselves in, brutally destined to death. The base of the museum is in the shape of a cross, the general Christian symbol of suffering.
Within the building, on its lower level, there is a gallery where there is a permanent display of painting cycle by the painter Petar Lubarda called Kragujevac 1941. From time to time there is a mobile exhibition artistic and documentary character from other museums, anti- war centers, peace movements and associations for the protection of human rights from the country and from abroad. On the upper level the new, permanent exhibition was placed in 2003, named The Tragedy of Kraguejvac 1941 by a group of authors historians Staniša Brkiæ, Nenad Djordjeviæ, Milan Koljanin, M.A., academic painter-graphics artist Irena Paunoviæ, and the academic painter Igor Stepancic. Within the building, on its lower level, there is a gallery where it is constantly displayed.
Every year since 1971 the central manifestation of paying tribute has been held next to the Monument of shot pupils and teachers by the name of The Great School Lesson. Original works with peaceful messages, made by renowned domestic and foreign authors and composers are chosen for the occasion, and among the performers there are most famous actors, opera soloists and choirs.
The traditional music manifestation The Pilgrimage of October- OKTOH has been held since 1975. Young artists from the country and abroad perform the works of famous composers.
For over thirty years an open literary-visual arts competition One Šumarice is enough to the world is held for pupils of elementary and secondary schools from the territory of ex- Yugoslavia. Each November the ceremony of giving awards is organized and the first prizes on the topics of anti-war character or the topics about children`s rights, with the aim to encourage the young people to think about the right, ethical values.
During the period 2002 and 2007 there was the International Visual Arts Colony The Balkan bridges in Šumarice, and from 2008 it turned into the International Biannual of digital graphics. Our institution promotes the idea of open-mindedness, tolerance and versatility as a way for reconciliation among young people.
The Memorial Park was declared the cultural heritage of extreme importance on 27th December 1979.
The October in Kragujevac Memorial Park`s mission is to nurture and keep the memory of this tragic event; to raise the awareness and educate the coming generations so that such a crime is never repeated again.