Visit to Dotrščina Memorial Park
On the edge of Zagreb, there is a forest where locals take walks, relax and enjoy the air. Unlike the nearby Maksimir Park, where there is a zoo, a children’s playground, a restaurant and other entertainment facilities, this park is not overcrowded and is not a major destination for families seeking a leisurely Sunday stroll.
Dotrščina Memorial Park commemorates the thousands of civilians executed and buried at this site by Ustaše militia and security forces from 1941 until the end of WWII. Laying at the edge of Zagreb, it showed as a convenient killing ground. Beneath its green tranquillity, Dotrščina is a vast crime scene, a history marked by its designation in the 1960s as a Memorial Park, and the installation of several sculptures by major Croatian artists. Since the brutal disintegration of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, the park has been neglected and it is little used today. Its story does not suit contemporary narratives, and it is frequently defaced by neo-Nazi and nationalist graffiti.
Saša Šimpraga, who lives nearby, conceived the Dotrščina Virtual Museum in 2012 as a way to draw attention to this important site and to help protect its memory. For more than five years, generally without sanction or support, he has worked with like-minded people to create a series of artistic works in the park. The interventions have included a record of the names of those who were killed here, performative work and temporary sculptures by contemporary artists.