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Exhibition Heritage Heroes at the 39th Session in Bonn


Heritage Heroes – Croatia

Antun Grčić, Niko Grčić, Zoran Grljević, Pero Lise, Simo Martić, Niko Miletić, Antun Miloslavić, Niko Miloslavić, Vlaho Pavličević

The firefighters in front of the Cathedral in the Old City of Dubrovnik.
Photography: Astrid Piethan

Croatia, Old City of Dubrovnik
(Cultural World Heritage *1979; Extended in 1994, World Heritage in Danger: 1991- 1998 )

Bez vodoopskrbe smo ipak ugasili požar.
"No water supply, and yet we extinguished the fire!" (Antun Grčić)

Twenty firefighters worked in Dubrovnik when the Old City came under fire on 6 December 1991 in the civil war. Grenades set the roofs on fire, which also quickly spread to the wooden gables and lower floors. The entire city was at risk of becoming a victim of the flames.

At that time, the population already had to do without the supply of running water and electricity for two months. Even the water from reactivated medieval cisterns could not help because the streets of the Old City had become impassable for fire engines due to the collapsed buildings. The only remaining option was to pump salt water from the harbour and transport it to the fire scenes by hand.

Since it was under attack, Dubrovnik’s citizens risked their lives along with the fire fighters. Everyone was close to exhaustion and three fire fighters died.

Nevertheless, the people did not give up and managed to control the fire before dawn. By working together, they were able to save 70% of the Old City‘s structures from the fire.