The Generalštab (consisting of two buildings) is considered an important architectural landmark, being the only large-scale public work of the architect Nikola Dobrović executed in Beograd (Belgrade). It was built between 1954 and 1965 in socialist Yugoslavia, replacing the buildings of the Defense Ministry and the Military Academy, heavily damaged in the 1941 Nazi bombing. Dobrović’s building was hit in the 1999 NATO bombing — one part suffered more significantly than the other across the street. They were protected as cultural monuments several years after that, emphasizing the importance of their reconstruction as prime examples of post-WWII modernist architecture. No decision was agreed upon about their fate in the meantime, although the press reported several times about the interests of foreign buyers in this central city location. It remains a highly symbolic and affectively charged place due to its history as a seat of the Yugoslav and later Serbian military forces. Not only is it by no means neutral or innocent — its relation to memory and remembrance is complex and multilayered — but it remains exploited as an object of self-victimizing nationalistic discourse without social consensus on the role of the Serbian state and its army in the wars of the 1990s.

We have asked architects, historians, art historians, and theoreticians why the Generalštab is important. What are we preserving with the ruined Generalštab building? What was lost or will be lost with its destruction?

Index: Collection/ Holding – Document type (V-Video, P-Photograph, G-Graphic, T-Text) – Location (B-Belgrade, M-Mostar, P-Prizren, S-Sarajevo) – Sequential number.

Photo credit: Lola Joksimović, CZKD; The Generalštab, Belgrade (detail).