Vahida Maglajlić. Heroine from Banja Luka.
As you walk towards the centre of Banja Luka from the area of Mladen Stojanović park, and down the tree lined King Peter 1 street, you finally arrive at the impressive and recently rebuilt Orthodox church of Christ the Saviour.
The original church had been destroyed in 1941 by Croatian Fascists and it wasn’t till 2004 that the church finally fully resumed full services.
At the end of World War 2 the Communist Party of Jugoslavija built a memorial for the “People’s Heroes” on or near the site of the church. It was subsequently moved across the road from the Banski Dvor.
Part of a small “park”, the memorial is surrounded by 21 busts of Partizan and People’s Heroes. One of those busts is of Vahida Maglajlić, the only Bosnisn Muslim woman to be proclaimed a National Hero of Yugoslavia.
Vahida Maglajlić was born in 1907 in Banja Luka, to a respectable Muslim family.
Vahida was one of the first Muslims who participated in the “workers ‘movement”. She also became first secretary, and later president, in the “Women’s Movement” in Banja Luka, raising funds for the “Red Assistance” organisation.
Vahida Maglajlić was accepted into the Communist Party of Yugoslavia in May 1941.
After the occupation of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and the establishment of the Ustasha Independent State of Croatia in 1941, Vahida actively participated in the preparations for armed uprising.
The Ustasha police in Banja Luka knew of Vahida’s connection with the Partisans, but she was initially not arrested, due to the concerns of a possible revolt of the local Muslim population. In October 1941, she was finally arrested, and held for two months in detention in Banja Luka prison, known then as the “Black House”. Having been tortured and mistreated in the hope of giving up her associates in the National Liberation Movement, it was decided to send her to Zagreb.
On the day of departure, along with her partner, Danica Marić, she managed to escape through a prison window.
They hid for two days in the house of Vahida’s father, before making their way to “liberated territory” on the Černernica Mountain.
There she worked with mostly women, and significantly Muslim women, to found the first anti-fascist front of women in Podgrmeč.
At the first Conference of the Anti-Fascist Front of Women of Yugoslavia in 1942, Vahida was elected to the Central Committee.
In 1943 she retreated, along with refugees and partizan forces, as a result of successes inflicted by the Fourth Enemy Offensive.
On April 1, 1943 Vahida died in the village of Mala Krupska Rujiška, near Bosanski Novi, during a sudden German attack on the 12th Krajina Brigade.
She was originally buried near to where she fell, in the hamlet of Stupari, near Little Krupska Ružica.
After the liberation of Jugoslavija, her remains were transferred and buried at the Partizans memorial cemetery in Banja Luka.
On December 20, 1951, Vahida Maglajlić was proclaimed a national hero.
I sometimes wonder how many of today’s young Banja Luka born women, realise that they are walking past a woman from their city, who gave her life to try and make a difference, in such awful circumstances.
Vahida Maglajlić, Heroine from Banja Luka.