Kragujevac, October 21, 2019. The 10th “Tree of Peace” was planted in the Republic of Serbia. The planting of a tree was a part of a nationwide event, when both the Ambassador of the Slovak Republic to Serbia Ms. Dagmar Repčeková and representatives of several Serbian state institutions in Kragujevac, the former capital of the former Principality of Serbia honoured victims of fascist aggression at the traditional commemorative event called “Great School Hour” (Serbian: Veliki školski čas). Nearly 3,000 Serbian citizens including 300 students, were murdered here 78 years ago as an act of revenge on the occupying forces. Ms. Repčeková, the Ambassador, along with military attaché of Slovakia Cpt. Zuzana Majerová has laid a wreath at the Memorial in Šumarice Park (Serbian: Spomen-park „Kragujevački oktobar”, Спомен-парк „Крагујевачки октобар”) and urged the new generations never to allow these unfortunate events to be repeated. In this forest park there is also a monument dedicated to the memory of 44 Slovak soldiers who were executed on June 8, 1918 on the old shooting range, called Stanovljanske Field (Serbian: Stanovljanske polje) near the town of Kragujevac. The soldiers were members of the replacement battalion 71st Infantry “Trenčín” Regiment (German: Infanterieregiment Nr. 71). The events were preceded by the rebellion of those soldiers who got stuck their command. It was one of the biggest protests of the World War I soldiers directly on the front.
The victims, who put their lives in often meaningless wars, should not be forgotten. One of the ways to commemorate their lives is also our “Tree of Peace”. This project, initiated by the Slovak landscape architect and heraldic artist Marek Sobola, is a living memorial planted in honour of known and unknown victims of World War I, but also of all war conflicts in general. It is also the tree of life and peace. It reminds today’s generation of the misery of war and the danger that it has not survived, and it also tries to point at some of the parallels that we still encounter today in the world. The Ambassador, Ms. Dagmar Repčeková and the project author Marek Sobola, in the presence of Minister of Demography and Population Development, Ms. Slavica Đukić Dejanović, Mr. Aleksandar Živković, State Secretary of the Serbian Ministry of Defense and representatives of the town of Kragujevac, planted a memorial tree in the area of the mentioned Memorial of Slovak soldiers. This is a very honest and especially reverent place. In the Ambassador’s speech, she also returned to the current Presidency of the Slovak Republic in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), where one of our key priorities is the reconciliation process, which is particularly important in the region of Western Balkans. This symbolic act of a planting a tree could thus be an impulse for seeking mutual trust and compromise. After St. Petersburg in Russia or Kansas City in USA, it is another of the “Trees of Peace” that has been planted in the world. With this act the Republic of Serbia also joined countries in which they value understanding and peace among nations. Thuja occidentalis was elected as a memorial tree which was donated by the State Enterprise for Forest Management “Srbijašume”. This sort of tree has a shallow root system and since it is a reverent place with graves, other sorts of tree could later disrupt the graves with a root system. On the other hand, as a constant green tree, it reminds of the constant need for friendship, tolerance and understanding among nations.
The Embassy of the Slovak Republic in Belgrade is one of the important partners of tree planting in Kragujevac together with the town of Kragujevac and several Slovak villages whose citizens were executed in Stanovljan Field and their names are carved in the Memorial: Divina, Štiavnik, Belá, Krpeľany and Hruštín. Local media also reported on the event.