brochure “Partizanski spomenik u Mostaru” (1980)
book “Spomenica Mostara 1941-1945.”
another document or proof of the memorial stone (e.g., a photograph).
Hasan S. ZAHIROVIĆ, national hero
HASAN S. ZAHIROVIĆ, also known as LACA, was born in Mostar on December 25, 1920. He comes from a poor artisan family. Family circumstances and his father’s unemployment forced his family to move away from Mostar. From 1923 to 1933, he lived in Sarajevo, where he completed elementary school and learned the trade of a baker. His family returned to Mostar from Sarajevo. According to one source, he performed various jobs: “carrying luggage for passengers at the Railway Station, chopping wood and grinding coffee for café owners, but he was most famous for digging coal, which he sold, although it was forbidden and punishable. He fought for his livelihood in various ways, and when he had no income, he took care of his comrades, who loved him greatly.” He played football for the youth section of “Velež.” Hasan increasingly found himself in the company of organized workers in Mostar and participated in all their actions against the regime and exploitation. He was in the forefront during the large demonstrations in Mostar in early September 1940. He became a member of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (KPJ) in 1942 (upon joining, he said, “You finally remembered me!”), and he joined the Battalion in October 1941, serving as the deputy commander of a platoon.
Just before the war, he went to serve his military service in Zemun, and after the Yugoslav army’s surrender, he returned to Mostar and worked on amassing weapons and military equipment. Together with his comrades, they stored the collected material in illegal warehouses, from which the first fighters would later be armed.
He found employment as a worker in a military warehouse, secretly taking weapons and equipment for the struggle. At the same time, he worked on other tasks in the occupied city according to the party organization’s assignments: distributing and spreading leaflets in the Italian barracks, writing slogans on walls, and with his daring actions, he caused unrest and confusion among the enemy ranks. Finally, when the danger of being discovered loomed over him, Hasan, together with several of his comrades, stormed the domobran (Croatian Home Guard) barracks, the northern military camp in Mostar, on October 3, 1941, and seized 18 crates of ammunition with 1,200 rounds each, several rifles, and other military equipment, which he then transferred to the partisan fighters. The group consisted of Mehmed Trbonja Meha, the leader of the group, Mehmed Arap, Živko Papo Henći, and Laca.
In November 1941, Laca joined the Konjički (Mostar) Partisan Detachment, which was located in the area of Boračko Lake. He was one of the bravest and most courageous fighters of the Detachment. After a major battle in March 1942, when the partisan units in Herzegovina ran out of ammunition in Borač, the Operational Staff for Herzegovina ordered the Mostar Battalion, along with three other comrades, to try to obtain ammunition from occupied Mostar. Hasan volunteered to carry out this task. The group took out 22 crates of ammunition from an Italian warehouse, which were then transferred to the liberated territory.
Laca went on several missions to the occupied Mostar, bringing back medical supplies, weapons, and ammunition. In the Mostar Battalion of the Tenth Herzegovinian Assault Brigade, he was one of the most skilled machine gunners. As the platoon commander, he always led the way, ahead of his fighters, attacking enemy nests and bunkers. He participated in all the actions of the assault company and distinguished himself particularly in the battles for the liberation of Žepče and Prozor in early 1943, as well as in the battles for Konjic and Bijela, where strong Chetnik forces had numerous and powerful fortifications. In the attack on the Vinac Railway Station, Laca and his comrades opened fire on the station with machine guns and rifles, after which a white flag appeared. About twenty domobrans surrendered with their personal weapons.
He was killed in the area of Kobilja Glava Pass near Gacko on April 8, 1943, in battles against the Italians and Chetniks, in which the main part of the Tenth Herzegovinian Assault Brigade participated, along with other units of the Third Assault Division. He was buried on the rocky ridge where he fell: “there, the Lenin’s funeral march could be heard, and a message was sent to the brigade headquarters on a piece of paper: ‘Hasan Zahirović Laca, platoon commander of the Mostar Battalion of the Tenth Herzegovinian Brigade, heroically killed during the battles on Kobilja Glava near Gacko on April 6, 1943. He has several heroic deeds from the brigade’s battles in Jajce, Žepče, Prozor, Konjic, Nevesinje, Velež, etc.”
By a decree of the Presidency of the Anti-Fascist Council of People’s Liberation of Yugoslavia (AVNOJ) on December 26, 1945, among the first fighters of the National Liberation Army, and the first one from Mostar, Hasan Zahirović Laca was proclaimed a national hero. In 1949, his mortal remains were buried in a park in Mostar, and in 1965, they were transferred and reburied in the Partisan Cemetery in Mostar. The bust of Hasan Zahirović Laca is located in Musala Square in Mostar, next to the bust of Mladen Balorda and the memorial plaque for the hanged fighters Drago Palavestra and Alica Rizikalo. A street in Mostar is named after him (Lacina).
After the war, he was immortalized in the song “Mostarska mati” by Mostarske kiše. According to the author Mensur Seforović, “Laca’s great love” was the partisan medic Štaka Mićković. Laca is remembered as the “natural born leader of Mostar youth”.
In socialist Yugoslavia, youth brigades carrying the name of Laca operated for years in organized voluntary labor activities used to build public and industrial infrastructure.
EXCERPTS FROM LITERATURE:
“Approaching the Chetnik positions before our attack, in the early hours of the morning, Hasan Zahirović Laca, a worker from Mostar, was killed. A stray bullet, fired from a long distance, struck him in the left eyebrow and lodged in his head. Laca fell silent. What a strange death of a legendary hero. We approached him. Among us was the nurse Staka Mićković, Laca’s friend, and Rifat Frenjo, both crying like children, kissing and caressing the lifeless Laca. After driving out the Chetniks from Kobilja Glava, we buried Laca in the presence of a large number of fighters, and I bid farewell to our comrade with tears and a short speech, emphasizing that his heroism will serve as an example to our fighters on the path to freedom and that we will avenge him. Laca became a legend – a hero, whom the entire Brigade was proud of. A poor man’s son, an unemployed baker from Mostar, he belonged to a group of destitute people at the Carina, who did whatever it took to survive before the war. Laca and most of them grew into wonderful communists in the National Liberation War, young men of action and exemplary heroes.”
“At dawn, we set out for Kobilja Glava. At the top, the Chetniks noticed us and opened fire. We accepted the fight. At that time, I was on duty as a sergeant in the 1st platoon of the 2nd company. The paramedic in the platoon was Staka Mićković, everyone loved her. She was a girlfriend of Hasan Zahirović Laca, so, wanting to be with her, he was also in our platoon. In the attack on Kobilja Glava, at dawn, Hasan Zahirović Laca died, and I was only 30 meters away. Courier Jozo, a native of Split, was between us who shouted: “Ala, Laca is killed!” I ran to Laca. A grain hit him in the left eyebrow, and he remained dead on the spot. We continued the fight. We drove the Chetniks out of Kobilja glava. Later we laid Laca on the wing of the tent and carried her to a nearby tavern. We dug a grave in a garden across from the tavern. We wrapped the dead body in the wing of the tent and buried it. The platoon in formation fired a volley paying respect to a dear comrade and a great fighter. The battalion was in mourning for Laca’s death. Rifat Frenjo cried more for Laca than for his brother Asim, who died on Porim.”
Ćemalović, Enver (1986): Mostarski bataljon, Mostar ; Hamzić, Refik (1986): Mostarci narodni heroji Jugoslavije, Mostar; Seferović, Mensur (1981): „Istočno i zapadno od Neretve“, „Narodna armija“, Beograd 533; Spomenica Mostara 1941-1945; Alikalfić, Fazlija, Seferović, Nusret (1989): “Zbornik sjećanja o Mostarskom bataljonu”, Skupština opštine, Odbor za istoriju revolucionarnog radničkog pokreta i NOB-a Mostara; Ibrulj, Saša (2022): Velež, priča o 100 godina mostarskih rođenih, Dobra knjiga, Sarajevo; http://aesthetischepraxis.de/Texte_English/Treasures_of_Socialism.pdf
Fotografije: https://www.tracesofwar.com/sights/52291/Monument-Freedom-Fighters.htm; Ponovno oskrnavljeno Partizansko spomen groblje u Mostaru (nap.ba); Narodni heroji Jugoslavije N-Ž, Institut za savremenu istoriju, Partizanska knjiga, Ljubljana, Narodna knjiga, Beograd, Pobjeda, Titograd, 1982.; Narodni heroji Jugoslavije N-Ž, Institut za savremenu istoriju, Partizanska knjiga, Ljubljana, Narodna knjiga, Beograd, Pobjeda, Titograd, 1982.; spomenicinob.info
Photo of the memorial plaque: S. Demirović.
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