The most dramatic part of Kosančićev Venac could be easy to dismiss as an insignificant long demolished building in a plot left in disuse.
But this is Belgrade.
So it is not.
An overgrown hole in the ground surrounded by fencing and marked by two large posters in Serbian and English marks the spot of the former National Library.
Destroyed by German bombs on 6 April, 1941.
The words on the poster.
“Stop, for a moment, you who are passing by!
On this spot, until Sunday, 6th April 1941, there was the National Library of Serbia.
On that day, in the early morning, started the bombing of Belgrade.
First, peace was blown to pieces, and then, in Kosančićev venac, the National Library began to burn.
Ancient written heritage, old and new books, papers and letters, documents and newspapers were burning for days.
For days flames destroyed the testimonies on the existence and lasting of one people.
For days the fire devoured centuries of history, condensed in words.
The flames finally turned into coals, the coals into ashes.
On this spot, since Sunday, 6th April 1941, there have been the ashes of a great part of the historical memory of the Serbian people.
That’s why stop, for a moment. you who are passing by!
It is worth, as many do, standing there by the site, reading those words, and reflecting on all that has taken place in this city, this country
I walked by this site many times.
In many frames of mind.
Those who know, know.