Montenegrin President Makes First Visit to WWII Massacre Memorial

Montenegrin President Jakov Milatovic at the WWII memorial in Doli Pivski. Photo: President of Montenegro.

"The state of Montenegro must not forget the innocent suffering of your and our ancestors, relatives and neighbours," Milatovic said at the commemoration.

He was the first state official to attend the annual event organised by the Serbian Orthodox Church. When the previous Montenegrin authorities were in power, officials avoided attending World War II memorial ceremonies organised by the Serbian church, which the government accused of promoting Serbian nationalism.

The massacre in the Piva area near Montenegro's border with Bosnia and Herzegovina was carried out during an offensive against Yugoslav Partisan fighters codenamed Operation Schwartz.

The SS's Prinz Eugen Division, together with Croatian Ustasa fighters and the SS's Handzar Division, which was made up of Bosniaks, captured and killed 522 inhabitants of the villages of Dub, Bukovac, Miljkovac, Duba and Rudinci.

They then killed them in the village of Doli Pivski, shooting them or burning them alive in houses. Some families were completely exterminated, while 109 of the victims were children.

In 1977, the Yugoslav authorities built a memorial complex in Doli Pivski, and an Orthodox church was added in 2004. The Serbian Orthodox Church proclaimed the victims of the massacre to be martyrs in 2017, and a girl who ran into a burning house in order to die alongside her family was given the title of Holy Martyr Jaglika Pivska.

In July 2022, the Montenegrin parliament adopted a resolution condemning the World War II massacres of Serbs by Nazi troops in Doli Pivski and the village of Velika as genocide.

Around 550 Serb villagers from Velika were massacred...

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