On a corner of the Dutch Reformed cemetery in Garderen stands a monument to the memory of 29 Serbs who died of the Spanish flu in 1919. The monument was placed there in April 1919 by the legation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes in The Hague. The text was in French and it was written “les soldats serbes décédés au camp de Millingen 1919” with 29 names in French transcription, and on the back in Serbian and Dutch the text “Deceased for Serbia / the grateful Serbian fatherland” (“Умрли за Србију” / “Gestorven voor Serbie”, “Благодарна Отаџбина Србија” / “Het Dankbaar Serbische Vaderland”). In the beginning of the 21st century weather had taken its toll and the letters had almost faded.
Starting from 2004 the Embassy of the Republic of Serbia in the Netherlands got involved in the preservation of the monument. In the following years, a Dutch/Serbian committee collected the resources needed for the restoration, in close cooperation with the Serbian Orthodox Church in the Netherlands and the Embassy of the Republic of Serbia. Among the driving forces behind the committee were Slaviša Jovanović, Gijs van Ginkel, Novica Savić, Piet van Bentum, Nedeljko Vukelić, and representatives of the embassy in The Hague and the Serbian clergy, most notably archpriest Vojislav (Bilbija). While the money was collected, a plan was made for the restoration and extension.
The restoration of the old monument was completed in 2006, and a celebration was held to the memory of the Serbs who had died here and were once buried on the cemetery in Garderen.
A year later, the monument was extended by placing a so-called “krajputaš”. In Serbia since ancient times monuments in the shape of persons were placed along roadsides and other places, to the memory of those who had fallen in battle, or while travelling and were buried far away from their birth grounds. This tradition was continued in Garderen by putting a krajputaš in 2007, after the design of father Vojislav.
In the following years names were added for 14 Serbs who died near Enschede and 21 in Nijmegen. On 1 October 2011 the monument was officially transfered to the embassy and the committee was disbanded.
A celebration is held every year on the first Saturday of October. In 2012 a total of 29 crosses were placed to remember the Serbs who were originally buried on the cemetery. Google maps location of the WWI monument in Garderen click here (link).
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